U.S. Auto Sales Seen Lower In January; GM, Ford Post Declines

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DETROIT (AP) — U.S. auto sales are expected to have fallen in January but the slowdown could be temporary.

Strong consumer confidence, low gas prices and good deals on new vehicles should help sales speed up once the weather warms and buyers get their tax refunds. While sales aren’t expected to top last year’s record of 17.55 million, they’re still expected to be close to historically high levels.

For January, General Motors’ sales fell 3.8 percent from the same month a year ago, while Ford’s sales were down 1 percent. Nissan’s sales rose 6 percent thanks to strong truck and SUV sales.

Other automakers report sales later Wednesday.

ALG, an automotive forecasting firm, predicts overall sales will be down 1.5 percent from last January to 1.1 million.

January is typically the weakest month of the year for U.S. auto sales, as winter weather and holiday debts keep buyers away from car dealerships. This year, the hangover could be even more acute, since a strong December capped off a record year for the industry.

Consumers can find some good deals. As auto sales slow after seven straight years of increases, automakers are increasingly desperate to make a deal. Incentive spending averaged an estimated $3,635 per vehicle in January, up 21.6 percent from a year ago, ALG said. Car shopping site Edmunds.com said 10 percent of all new car loans in January had zero-percent financing.

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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