UPDATE 1-US Sept auto industry sales slower than August

martedì 23 settembre 2008 04:51
 

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DETROIT, Sept 22 (Reuters) - U.S. auto industry sales are running at a slower annual rate in September than in August as market turmoil pressures consumer confidence, Ford Motor Co's (F.N: Quotazione) marketing chief said on Monday.

Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of marketing and communications, told reporters a seasonally adjusted annual rate for the month of 13 million units "seems about right."

That figure would put the U.S. industry about in the middle between the July seasonally adjusted rate and the gains in August that some attributed to a sharp step-up in incentives toward the end of last month.

"(Sales were) strengthening the last week or so, but the first couple of weeks very stressed the industry," Farley said of September U.S. auto sales.

U.S. auto sales are down 11 percent through the end of August, hit by tighter credit, high gasoline prices and a housing market slump. The annualized sales rate was 12.6 million in July and 13.7 million in August.

Farley also said there were signs that the truck market is continuing to rebound from lows during the summer, but the credit market was having a tremendous impact on customers.

Auto industry executives had said the sharp rise in U.S. gas prices to above $3.50 per gallon in April and May had driven a permanent shift in consumer demand toward more fuel efficient cars and away from trucks and SUVs.

"The customer is telling us that their head is in a completely different place than in April when gas went above $3.50 per gallon," Farley said.

"Their heads are right now where, 'I've got to be more careful and I feel like I have less wealth,' and that brings the whole industry down," Farley said. (Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Louise Heavens)