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Auto sales leapt in February

Posted on Friday, March 4, 2016 at 10:01:47 AM

If, as some analysts suggest, there is a slowdown coming to U.S. auto sales, it certainly hasn't shown any signs of starting. After a respectable, if unimpressive, start to the year, auto sales surged to a 15-year high for the month of February - rising about 7 percent, according to Reuters.

Steadily improving economic conditions, attractive discounts, low gas prices and affordable auto financing all helped bolster sales last month. Pent-up demand among buyers on the East Coast - some of whom were delayed by severe winter weather in late January - was another factor, The Wall Street Journal reported.

February auto sales were estimated to have hit a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.43 million, down from the 17.45 million figure reported in January but an improvement on February 2015's 16.32 million. Reuters, citing data from WardsAuto, noted that February's selling rate was 6.7 percent higher than one year ago.

Even as vehicle sales beat expectations, some analysts suggested that auto makers' reliance on big discounts and incentives might be approaching a peak.

"Incentives are still fairly elevated and remain a concern," RBC Capital Markets auto analyst Joseph Spak told The Journal.

Still, even with the outsize role played by attractive financial offers, February's sales pace was indisputably healthy. Once again it appears that American auto sales are on a track for a great year.