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U.S. Auto Sales Still Strong Despite Gas Costs

U.S. auto sales in February remain strong despite rising fuel prices and the threat of fresh government spending cuts, two independent forecasters say.

Automotive News reported that LMC Automotive, the forecasting partner of J.D. Power and Associates, today projected a seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of 15.2 million for February, based on the first 14 days of the month.

Citing an improving U.S. economy, LMC also raised its estimate for the full year by 200,000 units to 15.3 million light vehicles.

U.S. sales grew 13% last year to 14.5 million units, as the industry continued its comeback from the recession low of 10.4 million recorded in 2009.

“Current fundamentals driving strong vehicles sales … are expected to get a boost by additional positive factors this year,” said Jeff Schuster, the company’s top auto forecaster, citing an anticipated housing recovery, more new-model launches and a higher number of vehicles coming off lease.

Automakers plan to release February sales results on March 1.

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