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USA: October Auto sales rate seen at 8-month high

Old 11-01-2011, 06:04 AM
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USA: October Auto sales rate seen at 8-month high

U.S. auto sales in October are expected to have hit the highest rate in at least eight months, helped by pent-up demand from consumers trading in aging vehicles and a wider selection of Honda and Toyota brand cars and trucks.

Forty-one economists polled by Reuters expect October's seasonally adjusted annualized rate to be around 13.2 million vehicles, up about 9 percent from the year earlier. In September, the sales rate was 13.1 million.

Analysts said October's likely stronger sales were also driven by the greater availability of vehicles made by Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Toyota Motor Co (7203.T), after the industry recovered from Japan's March earthquake which triggered a shortage of auto parts.

"We think there was some pent-up demand held over from Honda and Toyota die-hards who waited to buy those and in October there was growing inventory," analyst Michelle Krebs said. Auto sales are an early indicator each month of U.S. consumer demand.

But Krebs added that Honda's rebound could be short-lived after severe flooding in Thailand triggered a shortage of crucial electronic parts.

The flooding will not hit October sales, but it may affect November and December U.S. auto sales, particularly at Honda, analysts said.

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