US-October car sales easily seen: advisor

DETROIT (Reuters) – US auto sales were expected to decline slightly in October as replacement demand for hurricanes Harvey and Irma boosted business, industry analyst JD said. Power and LMC Automotive on Monday.

Vehicles for sale are seen at Serramonte Ford in Colma, California, USA, October 3, 2017. REUTERS / Stephen Lam

"Compared to the prior year, sales were inflated by demand for replacement vehicles related to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in October last year," said Thomas King, Senior Vice President, Data and Analytics, JD Power.

New vehicle sales in the US are expected to reach 1.349 million units in October, up from 1.351 million a year ago.

The forecast was based on the first 17 sales days in October. Automobile manufacturers, including Ford Motor Co (F.N) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N), the US sales results for October will be released on November 1.

Earlier this year, # 1 U.S. Automaker General Motors Co (GM.N) instead of monthly to quarterly reports converted.

The consulting firms said consumers continued to move from passenger cars to pickup trucks and SUVs in October, which accounted for more than 70 percent of retail sales in the first 17 sales days in October.

This was the first time that pickup trucks and SUVs had crossed the 70 percent mark, consultants said. In 2012, more than half of the turnover was accounted for by passenger cars.

The seasonally adjusted annualized turnover for October will be 17.4 million units, compared to 17.9 million units in October 2017, according to the consultants.

New car sales in the US declined 2 percent in 2017 to around 17.2 million units, after reaching a record high in 2016.

The sale was originally expected to continue to decline in 2018 due to rising interest rates and the return of second-hand vintage cars to traders, in order to compete with new ones.

However, with a strong US economy and low unemployment, sales have exceeded expectations.

LMC maintained its existing forecast for US new car sales for 2018 of 17.2 million units.

Average prices for new vehicles remained high, reaching a monthly record in October.

LMC's President of Operations Americas, Jeff Schuster, said in a statement that high prices coupled with further interest rate hikes could cause problems for the auto industry.

"This is a combination that could lead to consumers being pushed out of the new vehicle market and putting the volume under pressure, even if other fundamentals are favorable," he said.

Report by Nick Carey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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