| DETROIT, April 3
DETROIT, April 3 U.S. sales of new vehicles in
March at major automakers came in below market expectations,
according to figures released on Monday, sending shares of
General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co down more than
The news also weighed on car retailer stocks. The March
sales offered the market a glimpse of the overall health of
middle-class American consumers.
Car sales in America have risen ever since end of the Great
Recession and hit a record last year of 17.55 million. Investors
and analysts have been watching for signs that the current boom
cycle has begun to wane.
Trucks and SUVs pushed sales at some major automakers higher
in March at the expense of cars as American consumers continued
to shun smaller vehicles amid low gasoline prices.
No. 1 U.s. automaker General Motors Co reported a 2
percent increase in sales to just over 256,000 vehicles, with
sales of its Tahoe and Suburban SUV models seeing their best
sales month since 2008.
But sales at Ford Motor Co fell more than 7 percent to
236,000 vehicles, with fleet sales to rental agencies,
businesses and government entities down nearly 17 percent on the
year. On a conference call, Ford executives said they expected
the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for U.S. auto
sales of over 17 million vehicles.
Analyst polled by Reuters expected a SAAR of 17.3 million
vehicles for March.
Toyota Motor Corp reported a 2.1 percent decrease
in sales, including a decline of more than 7 percent at its
luxury Lexus brand.
Honda Motor Co Ltd reported an overall decline in
sales of 0.7 percent versus March 2016, but said truck sales
were up 8.4 percent.
Nissan Motor Co Ltd reported a 3.2 percent increase
in sales and said sales of its trucks, SUVs and crossovers were
up 26 percent and had hit record highs.
In morning trading, GM shares were down 3.8 percent at
$34.03 and Ford was off 2.5 percent at $11.34.
Car retailer Penske Auto Group was down 1.5 percent
and Group 1 Automotive was down 3.3 percent on Monday
(Reporting By Nick Carey; Editing by Nick Zieminski)