TEXT-S&P reports on September U.S. auto sales

(The following statement was released by the rating agency)

Oct 4 - Light-vehicle sales in the U.S., one of the steady bright spots in the economy this year, improved meaningfully in September for the second consecutive month, after softening somewhat in July, said Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in a report published yesterday on RatingsDirect titled, "September U.S. Auto Sales Remain Above Standard & Poor's 2012 Full-Year Expectation."

The seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales in September was about 14.9 million units (according to Ward's AutoInfoBank). This was the highest SAAR since March 2008, before the spike in gas prices and the economic downturn caused a sharp, sustained drop in auto sales. The September SAAR, similar to August, solidly supports Standard & Poor's current full-year 2012 assumption of 14.2 million. We expect at least a 3% year-over-year growth for the remainder of the year, assuming no sudden meaningful sustained rise in gas prices. However, mixed economic signals, lackluster job growth, and a sustained increase in gas prices could diminish prospects for similar sales levels for the remainder of the year. We also remain cautious about potential weakness in the global economic recovery as myriad challenges in Europe, slower growth in China, and the potential U.S. fiscal showdowns later in 2012 could keep prospective buyers on the sidelines.

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. (New York Ratings Team)

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