US auto sales jump more than expected in November (FCAU, GM, NSANY, F, TM, HMC, VOW)

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Mike Cassese/Reuters

US auto sales rose more than expected in November, putting the industry within reach of a second straight record year of sales.

According to Autodata, sales rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.87 million. Economists had estimated that total vehicle sales rose at a 17.7 million rate.

Many of the large companies reported sales growth that was better than expected.

Here are the latest results:

  • Nissan: 7.5% (4.6% expected)
  • Ford: 5.1% (0.5% expected)
  • Toyota: 4.3% (3.4% expected)
  • GM: 10.2% (9.1% expected)
  • Fiat Chrysler: -14% (-9% expected)
  • Honda: 6.5% (8.4% expected)
  • Volkswagen of America: 24.2%
  • Kia: 15.3%

Sales this year have been supported by automakers' use of incentives and continued low interest rates. The timing of Black Friday in November also helped dealers close more transactions.

But beyond the day of deep discounts, this greater use of incentives and price discounts to attract buyers is not sustainable, said Michael Gapen, a Barclays analyst, in a note. They have eroded the quality of sales and could hurt carmakers' earnings.

In the coming months, more attention may be paid to the impact of rising interest rates on auto lending and demand. There's not likely to be a dramatic effect, however — at least not immediately.

"We see reasons to believe that auto financing will become more restrictive over time," Gapen said last month. "Commercial banks are now tightening standards on auto loans and readings on household debt service ratios suggest that delinquency rates have likely bottomed."

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