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GM's Stock Sell-Off And Why It's Happening

GM logo, General Motors logo
GM logo, General Motors logo

Twenty-six years. That's how long it's been since we last saw shares of General Motors trading at these prices.

Depending on where things end up Friday GM shares go into the weekend at roughly $17.50 a share. dropping roughly 4% on Friday.

It's nothing short of a horrendous end to a very tough week for General Motor's shareholders.

Why the sell-off? Three things are spooking investors.

First, GM announced today that the impact of the UAW strike at American Axle will total up to $2.8 Billion.

Second, GM's continues to be dogged by it's 49% ownership in GMAC which is struggling with its subsidiary ResCap and the mortgage meltdown.

Third, many believe GM will have to follow Ford's lead and shift more production from gas guzzling trucks and SUVs towards more fuel efficient, but not as profitable cars and crossovers.

You get the picture. GM is facing a perfect storm of problems being whipped up by high gas prices and a slowing economy.

Unfortunately for those investors, there's little indication things will improve in the second half of this year. And now I'm hearing some in the auto industry say that 2009 could be about as slow as this year.

For GM CEO Rick Wagoner and his executives, there's not much they can do. Sure, there's a good chance they will shift production from trucks and SUVs to cars and crossovers. That would help to a certain extent.

Still, the automaker will continue to get whacked by skyrocketing raw material costs. And with the economy as weak as it is, there's little hope a major incentive program would get people out to showrooms in numbers great enough to dramatically boost sales of big rigs.

So for General Motors, it is likely to head into its 100th anniversary in September facing one its biggest challenges in the last century.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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