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Chicago Fed Letter, No. 121, September 1997
Auto Industry Cruises on

In 1996, light vehicle (car and light truck) sales totaled a very respectable 15.0 million units. This matched the highest yearly light vehicle sales rate of the current expansion, which occurred in 1994. In the fourth quarter of 1996, light vehicle sales averaged 14.8 million units and it appeared that the auto sector was set for a slight retrenchment. Instead, what followed in the first three months of this year was the strongest consecutive three-month period for light vehicle sales since the current expansion began six years ago. The surprisingly strong showing for the auto sector was followed by extremely anemic light vehicle sales in April. Sales for the month fell to an annual rate of 14.2 million units, the lowest monthly sales rate in two years.

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