International Finance

US December auto sales strong

Consumer confidence and low fuel prices supported the industry

January 9, 2016: According to automakers, sales of cars and trucks in the US hit a record high in December putting total sales for the year over the top to beat the 2015 record.

Research firm AutoData said that US sales hit an all-time high of 17.55 million vehicles in 2016. The firm also said that December sales came in much stronger than expected, at a pace of 18.4 million vehicles. That figure is well above estimates for about 17.7 million.

Shares of General Motors Co (GM.N) rose 5.5 percent and Ford Motor Co (F.N) stock rose 4.6 percent, far outpacing the wider Dow Jones Industrial Average, which was up only 0.3 percent.

For 2016 sales, Ford reported its best year in a decade while Nissan and Honda said they sold a record number of cars in the US. Toyota and GM bucked the trend, with their total sales in 2016 down from the year earlier.

Light trucks and sport utility vehicles were up 8.3 percent compared to the year-ago period while passenger cars were down 4.7 percent.

The positive increase in auto sales is mainly attributed to strong consumer confidence coupled with low fuel prices. In December, US consumer confidence reached levels not seen in 15 years. Auto sales are an early indicator of consumer spending.

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