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US auto sales seen falling in 2017, with trucks aiding profit

[MICHIGAN] US sales of cars and light trucks will probably fall next year by the equivalent of a single factory's output, analysts and economists say. And they're just fine with that.

Deliveries may drop to about 17.2 million light vehicles next year, the average of 10 analysts' estimates in a Bloomberg survey. That would be about 1 per cent to 2 per cent fewer than the projections for this year's total. As retail demand softens, the biggest automakers are trimming production, particularly of slow-selling car models.

"It's still a great year," Steven Szakaly, economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association, said of the outlook for 2017. "Plus-17 million is fantastic, especially when you think about the mix, which still going to be probably 60-40 in favor of light trucks," which are more profitable than cars. He predicts 17.1 million sales, down from about 17.4 million or 17.5 million this year.

In 2015, the industry surprised analysts by setting a record of almost 17.5 million. Most analysts predicted further growth this year, but as the second half failed to match 2015's torrid finish - featuring an unprecedented three-month streak of a faster than 18-million annualized pace - automakers may finish just shy of last year's total. That would end a six-year streak of annual gains, the longest since at least 1927.

sentifi.com

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