September 23, 2017
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Auto Sales Up - But For How Long?

Auto sales continue to be on pace for another record year, but there are concerns that the cyclical industry may be peaking.

(Reuters)

April auto sales on course to reach a new high for the month. But there are concerns that the industry, which tends to go through cycles, may be peaking.

For example, General Motors' sales were off by 3.5 percent, more than forecasts. But that was, in part, because fleet sales were down, a shift that has an upside, according to Kelley Blue Book's Rebecca Lindland, the Senior Directory of Commercial insights. She added, "A lot of fleet sales are losing money, not all of them, but a lot. So, we like the fact that it's a retail market."

GM said truck sales remained strong.

Ford posted the best retail sales for April in a decade, with a gain of four percent from a previous year. And Honda, which does very little business in fleet sales, had its best April ever. Luxury sedans continue to downshift. Sales in that category dropped more than twenty percent for both, GM's Cadillac brand and Toyota's Lexus.

At Fiat Chrysler, which owns the lucrative Jeep brand, sales jumped 5.6 percent. Auto sales are an early indicator of U.S. consumer spending. The auto industry has generally been ahead of the overall economy since a recovery that began in 2010.