Hefty consumer discounts during a robust Black Friday weekend helped boost November U.S. auto sales between 4 % and 5 %, which could catapult results this year above a record high in 2015, economists and industry analysts said.
Major automakers in the U.S. market report sales on Thursday, offering an early snapshot of U.S. consumer spending.
A Thomson Reuters poll of 35 economists showed expectations of a seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of 17.7 million vehicles for November in the United States. A separate poll of nine Wall Street analysts by Reuters showed expectations of 17.8 million in annualized sales.
Wall Street analysts expect Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to fare the poorest among major automakers, with some forecasting a 14 % drop from last November. FCA restated its U.S. sales earlier this year, bumping up last November's count by 13,000 vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp is expected to outsell Ford Motor Co by about 8,000 vehicles. Forecasts show Ford sales flat to up 1 % and Toyota's sales up 3 % to 5 %. Usually, Ford is second in U.S. sales behind leader General Motors Co, and Toyota is generally third.
GM sales are seen rising between 8 % and 12 %.
Incentives, or discounts on new vehicles, are at historic highs, making some investors wonder whether the auto sales boom will continue. Consumer discounts cut into company profits.
But major automakers say that trucks and SUVs, which have higher profit margins, are easily outselling passenger cars, leading to higher overall selling prices. Therefore, the companies are keeping discipline in matching supply with demand, major automakers have said.