U.S. Automakers Due to Report June Sales

Analyst says he expects already-struggling U.S. automakers to report declines in June auto sales.

NEW YORK (AP) - A Morgan Stanley analyst said he expects already struggling U.S. automakers to report declines in June auto sales on Tuesday.

Auto sales figures, which include sales of sports utility vehicles, trucks and cars, are considered an important indicator of consumer demand. Sales of these big-ticket items typically comprise 25 percent of the nation's total retail sales.

Major vehicle makers include Toyota Motor Corp., which consistently vies for No. 2 spot with Ford Motor Co. Domestic auto maker General Motors Corp. has recently seen its stock gain ground on expected labor cost concessions. German-American car maker DaimlerChrysler AG is selling a majority stake in its troubled Chrysler division to Cerberus Capital Management LP for $7.4 billion.

Morgan Stanley analyst Jonathan Steinmetz said in a note to clients he expects GM to say its auto sales fell between 1 percent and 3 percent in the month.

Ford's sales probably fell between 7 percent and 9 percent, he said, forecasting that Chrysler sales fell between 6 percent and 8 percent during the month.

''We maintain a 'Cautious' industry view on Autos & Auto Parts,'' said Steinmetz. ''Our industry view is based on expectations of lukewarm retail demand, weak mix, high raw material prices and softness in international markets, partially offset by some progress toward attacking structural issues including overcapacity and legacy costs.''

Sales of compact cars, a segment that has been rising, is expected to continue its upward trend as long as gas prices remain high enough to scare some buyers away from bigger cars.

The trend is not considered good news for the big domestic manufacturers, which tend to rely on sport utility vehicles and trucks for sales.

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