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U.S. Auto Sales Dropped 13 Percent Last Month, With an Asterisk

December 4, 2002

U.S. auto sales fell 13 percent in November from near-record levels a year earlier, as automakers' incentives and discount offers lured fewer consumers. But dealers and industry officials said last month's sales were stronger

than October's, suggesting demand isn't collapsing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Auto sales totaled 1.204 million vehicles in November, for an annualized rate of 16 million, according to Autodata Corp. That is down from the 17.8 million rate seen last year, when zero percent financing deals introduced in the wake of the September terrorist attacks had consumers

flocking to showrooms.

In October 2002, sagging consumer confidence knocked the annualized sales rate to 15.5 million, the lowest in four years. Industry officials said November's results showed that the economy was pulling out of that soft patch, though there is no sign of a strong recovery.

Auto officials said they are battling a consumer

hangover after a year of discount-driven buying binges, according to the Journal.

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