No matter how auto sales turn out when they are reported Wednesday, it’s going to be a squeaker. The auto industry is on the cusp of reporting another record year, perhaps topping 17.5 million new vehicles sold in the U.S. But the numbers are so close that forecasters are divided on the prospect. The focus is turning, instead, to 2017 to see whether the industry can reignite sales growth based on consumer optimism, a rising stock market and a healthy housing market.
Some auto industry analysts say that retail automotive sales continue at a blistering pace, giving the auto industry plenty to celebrate as we close out the year. Others aren’t as bullish. They point to rising interest rates, lower trade-in values and potentially tighter financing as proof the end of the long cycle of rising auto sales is nearing an end, just in time for 2017. “The game isn’t over, but it looks like we’re in the fourth quarter and the clock is ticking,” wrote Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas in a Dec. 22 note. Read more