Low and worse than expected, and inline with the deceleration in bank auto lending, as previously discussed, which doesn’t bode well for other sales measures tied to credit expansion:
The earliest hint on whether consumer spending bounced back in April is positive. Unit vehicle sales rose from March’s very soft 16.6 million annualized rate to 16.9 million which however is below expectations for 17.2 million. Sales to consumers and sales to businesses are not separated in this report which, when month-to-month change is relatively small like in this case, can cloud the indication for consumer spending.
Vehicle sales in dollar terms fell each month during the first quarter and today’s report points, if not to a gain, at least to stability for April. Sales of North American-made cars and light trucks, at 13.3 million, rose fractionally and not enough to lift the first decimal place. Imports rose to 3.6 million and account for most of the month’s gain.