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Smoke on Cars

Auto Market Weekly Summary


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Article Highlights

  1. Consumers appear to be retreating from borrowing and spending.
  2. Vehicle sales were down more than forecasted despite high incentives.
  3. New-vehicle inventories are edging up due to slowing sales.

The new-vehicle market was down more than expected in October and consumer credit growth slowed as consumers were restrained in borrowing either by choice or by force due to credit tightening.

Credit growth slows: Consumer credit growth is slowing despite the Fed having lowering rates and loosening monetary policy. This is a reflection of tighter credit conditions and consumers pulling back on spending requiring credit.

While auto credit remains available, growth is decelerating as loans shift to even more used loans than new. Declining credit card balances are a warning sign that consumers are retreating. Still, consumer sentiment appears to be stabilizing, which could mean that the credit card declines were related to concerns about recession that were more elevated in August and September.

Vehicle sales slow: The new-vehicle market slowed in October more than analysts had expected due with declines in both fleet and retail sales. The 16.5 million SAAR reflects a pace of retail sales that was the lowest in four months as incentives were down slightly from a near record in September. Slower demand is causing new vehicle supply is growing again but remains modestly lower than last year. More discounting in new has put pressure on used-vehicle prices, but lower wholesale prices are helping to keep used-vehicle sales strong.

Looking ahead: This week, we’ll see data on inflation, real earnings growth, and retail sales in October.

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