Hope, caution seen in auto outlook

Jul 02, 2009 | 11:41 AM | Corinna Petry

The expected emergence of General Motors Corp. from Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and late-summer plans by the Detroit-area Big Three automakers to restart assembly operations have led industry observers to hope for a better second half for cars and metals, but that may be tempered by more bankruptcies by auto parts suppliers, continued job losses and a retreat in consumer confidence.

U.S. car and light truck sales by the top seven automakers were down 20.8 percent in June compared with a year earlier and first-half sales were off 36.1 percent from the same period in 2008, according to an AMM analysis (see chart above).

The seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for vehicles in June came in at nearly 9.66 million units, not far off IHS Global Insight Inc.'s estimate of 9.5 million vehicles but significantly below many other analysts' estimates of 10 million units, according to a report by the Waltham, Mass.-based economic analysis firm. In comparison, the year-ago rate was 13.69 million vehicles.....

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