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U.S. Auto Sales Rise
U.S. Auto Sales Rise

Chrysler Group U.S. auto sales reportedly rose 14% in July as the company reported broad growth across its brands for its best August sales since 2007. Edmunds said last week that U.S. new auto sales for August were expected to rise 20% compared to same time in 2011 and 12% from July. Edmunds expected Chrysler to report a 12% improvement from 2011. Chrysler August vehicle sales were 148,472 at an increase of 14% - up 14% from 130,120 in 2011 and 18% above July's total vehicle sales of 126,089. Truck sales were up by 12% while car sales were higher by 21%. The Fiat brand reported an the largest sales increase by 34%. Chrysler 300 sales rose 65% and Chrysler 200 sales rose 10%. Dodge brand sales were up 13% and Jeep brand sales increased by 5%. For August, Chrysler finished with a 66-day supply of inventory. Chrysler swung to a profit during its Q2 on rising sales and stronger pricing in North America, the company's primary market. Chrysler is now majority owned by Italy's Fiat SpA (FIATY, F.MI) and reported they expect to ship approximately 2.4 million vehicles worldwide for 2012.

Ford Motor Co. (F) U.S. auto sales increased by 13% during August compared to 2011 data, as a result of strong growth in utility-vehicle sales. During August, Ford reported sales of 197,249 vehicles compared to last year's 175,220 and July's total sales of 173,966. Ford branded sales experienced a 13% sales improvement, while Lincoln brand sales grew a mere 1.7%. Company wide August car sales rose 7.1% and truck sales increased by 6.1%. Utility-vehicle sales climbed higher by 28%; Ford Fusion sales grew 21%; Fords' best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-Series, climbed higher by 19% while Fiesta sales fell by 28%. In July, Ford reported its Q2 earnings fell 57% as its overseas operations and higher tax rate held back strong results from North America. Ford lowered its full-year profit forecast as well as its budget for capital spending.

General Motors (GM) reported U.S. vehicle sales rose 10% during August, as Buick, Chevrolet and Cadillac showed solid improvement. Total vehicle sales were 240,520 up from 218,479 in August 2011. Buick sales rose 12%, while Chevrolet and Cadillac sales each rose 11%.

The Institute for Supply Management - a gauge that measures the strength of the factory sector - remained below the 50% mark for the third consecutive month for the first time that’s happened since the summer of 2009. The data is stirring fears that a slowdown in manufacturing was more severe than thought. Manufacturing production has shown clear signs of a slow down over the past six months with evident soft consumer and foreign demand. “It is a sobering picture for manufacturing,” said Bradley Holcomb, chairman of the ISM survey committee. The ISM tracks the breadth of growth across firms, asking purchasing managers if business is better or worse this month than last. On Monday, Asia and the euro zone reported a downturn in manufacturing. China’s manufacturing sector slowed at the fastest pace since the financial crisis in 2009. Out of 18 industries, only eight as tracked by the ISM were growing in August, led by printing, primary metals and food. New-orders index - an indication of future demand - as reported by the ISM in August fell to 47.1% from 48.0% in July striking the lowest reading since April 2009. Production weakened as well, hitting 47.2% from 51.3% in previous month. The employment index fell to 51.6% from 52.0% in July, striking the lowest reading since November 2009. ISM’s prices gauge rebounded sharply to 54.0% in August from 39.5% in July.

Construction spending reported by the Commerce Department on Tuesday fell 0.9% in July, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $834 billion. Private residential construction fell 1.6%; private non-residential construction fell 0.9% and public construction spending fell 0.4%. Total construction spending rose by 9.3% compared with July 2011 data while construction spending rose 0.4% in June.

Netflix (NFLX) shares ended the session Tuesday, lower by 6%, leading S&P 500 Index (SPX) decliners early on in the session after news that rival Amazon.com (AMZN) secured a distribution agreement with the Epix premium cable network of Viacom (VIA). Days ago the exclusive deal Netflix had with Epix expired, sending investors nerves shaking since the move could cause Netflix to lose some of its unique appeal to consumers.

Mario Draghi provided European bond markets a dose of verbal intervention by reportedly indicating the ECB could buy bonds with maturities of up to three years without violating its charter. The move started a huge rally at the short end of the Spanish and Italian bond market Tuesday, sending yields plunging. The yield on 2-year Spanish government debt (ICAPSD:ES:2YR_ESP) dropped 0.35 percentage points to 2.92% while the 2-year Italian yield (ICAPSD:IT:2YR_ITA) dropped 0.28 percentage points to 2.33%. The ECB president late Monday told members of the European Parliament - behind closed doors - that purchases of bonds with maturities up to three years would not constitute central-bank financing of state deficits. Central-bank financing of government borrowing is illegal under the treaty that created the ECB. The premium demanded by investors to hold 2-year Spanish debt over its German counterpart (ICAPSD:DE:2YR_GER) shrank by nearly 40 basis points to 2.96 percentage points. The 10-year spread narrowed 29 basis points to 5.16 percentage points. The 10-year German bund yield (ICAPSD:DE:10YR_GER) rose 0.01 percentage points to 1.39%. The euro (ICAPC:EURUSD) fell 0.2% versus the dollar to $1.2559. The ECB Governing Council meet on Thursday followed by the monthly news conference by Draghi at which time he is expected to provide more details of the bond-buying plan he broadly outlined on August 2. By not participating in a recent restructuring of Greek government debt, the ECB heightened worries that any additional euro-zone government-bond buying by the central bank would leave private-sector investors in a junior position which means they would have to bear a larger share of the cost of any subsequent restructurings.


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Sept 4, 2012


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