2017 Economic Calendar
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Motor Vehicle Sales  
Released On 5/2/2017 For Apr, 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Total Vehicle Sales16.6 M17.2 M17.1 M to 17.4 M16.9 M
Domestic Vehicle Sales13.3 M13.5 M13.5 M to 13.8 M13.3 M

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.

Consensus Outlook
Vehicle sales have been offering reliable indications for changes in the motor vehicle component of the monthly retail sales report. After spiking late last year, vehicles sales have been moving sharply lower and pulling down consumer spending. Total unit vehicle sales proved very weak in March, hitting a 2-year low at a 16.6 million annualized rate. This makes for an easy comparison and forecasters see sales rising to a 17.2 million rate in April with North American-made models at 13.5 million vs March's 13.3 million. Note that April's result will offer the first hard indication on the second-quarter economy.

Unit sales of motor vehicles include domestic sales and foreign sales, otherwise referred to as imports. Domestics are sales of autos produced in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Imports are U.S. sales of vehicles produced elsewhere. These are for light vehicles which include all passenger cars and light trucks up to 14,000 pounds gross weight (including minivans and sport utility vehicles). Individual manufacturers usually report sales on the first business day of the month. One of the first tabulators of the data is Autodata Corporation. Motor vehicle sales are good indicators of trends in consumer spending and often are considered a leading indicator at business cycle turning points. One should note that manufacturers do not break out vehicle sales to businesses, which are a smaller but still significant percentage of the monthly total.  Why Investors Care
Motor vehicles sales slowed notably in 2008 and 2009 due to recession. Recovery boosted sales in 2010 and early 2011 before economic growth slowed. Truck shares hit their peak in 2005 when gasoline was cheap. Trucks have since oscillated sharply with spikes in gasoline in 2008 and 2010.
Data Source: Haver Analytics

2017 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/42/13/14/35/26/17/38/19/110/311/112/1
Release For: DecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNov

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