U.S. February auto sales jump 7 percent, no slowdown yet

Tue Mar 1, 2016 4:00pm EST
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By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. February auto sales soared to a 15-year high for the month, carmakers reported on Tuesday, in the latest sign of continued consumer confidence.

Auto sales last month rose about 7 percent, helped by low gasoline prices, available and low-interest credit and higher wages.

WardsAuto said February sales on an annualized basis was 17.43 million vehicles, down from 17.45 million in January but up from 16.32 million last February. Overall, WardsAuto said February sales of 1.34 million was 6.7 percent higher than a year ago.

Autodata Corp also counted 1.34 million in sales but said the increase from a year ago was 6.9 percent and the annualized sales rate for February was 17.54 million.

Despite gloomy talk about the economy on the U.S. presidential campaign trail, auto sales and other data released on Tuesday indicated the economy was regaining momentum.

Analysts have expressed concerns about a cyclical fall-off in vehicle sales after sustained gains since the 2008-2009 deep recession, but there were few signs of slowdown.

Ford Motor Co's (F.N: Quote) sales rose 20 percent as its SUV and crossover vehicles soared 28 percent from last February. F-Series pickup trucks, a leader in U.S. sales for more than three decades, gained 10 percent.

Ford stock was up 4.4 percent at $13.06.   Continued...

New Ford vehicles are seen at a parking lot of the Ford factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker