Newsreel: U.S. auto sales beat expectations; Positive factory, consumer data
U.S. auto sales beat expectations
DETROIT — U.S. auto sales in February were slightly brisker than expected as hefty incentives lured customers into dealerships late in the month despite cold and snowy weather.
Still, the chilly temperatures were enough to pressure last month's sales, which are expected to be up only slightly from the year-ago month, automakers said.
General Motors Co. said it expected industrywide U.S. auto sales of 15.4 million vehicles in February on an annualized basis, matching a forecast of analysts polled by Reuters.
The frost on sales for January and February will thaw in March as temperatures rise and customers return to showrooms in greater numbers, said Karl Brauer, auto analyst with industry research firm Kelley Blue Book.
Factory, consumer data point to improving economy
U.S. factory activity rebounded from an eight-month low in February, and consumer spending rose more than expected in January, suggesting the economy was regaining some strength after a recent slowdown.
The signs of momentum were also evident in other reports Monday that showed a brisk increase in automobile sales in February and a surprise gain in construction spending in January, despite unseasonably cold weather.
“The economy is beginning the slow process of digging its way out of the weather-induced slowdown of recent months,” said Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York. “This upward momentum should be sustained in the coming months.”