A recent report from asset management firm Alliance Bernstein highlighted strong sectors in the U.S. economy, one of which is retail automotive sales.

According to the report, real personal spending by consumers increased 2.9 percent during the first quarter of 2012, and spending on big ticket items, such as cars, was up 15.3 percent. New-vehicle sales reached 14.5 million units, annualized, which beat the firm’s previous forecast of 13.75 million units for the year. The company added that auto industry analysts recently upgraded their forecast to 14.5 million units. 

A range of factors are driving increased consumer spending, including an improved employment picture, improving consumer confidence and net worth, as well as stronger cash flow from record low borrowing costs.

Related to the jobs picture and the overall economy, another report from Alliance Bernstein says that despite recent lower-than-expected employment reports, the outlook on the jobs front is positive. The initial report for April 2012 showed that payroll employment rose by 115,000. Alliance Bernstein noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revises these reports two months after it issues them, and that these revisions track the business cycle. The firm said it believes the BLS will revise the April jobs number upward.