Hitting On All 8?

Maybe not.

In spite of the title of this MSNBC/CNBC report, “It’s official: Auto industry firing on all cylinders“, the only thing that is clear is that all the units of NBC are firing on all cylinders for Obama. The article states:

It’s hard to say whether there’s a direct link between the strong surge in April car sales and the four-year high the Dow Jones industrial average is on track to set today, but both are clearly delivering a dose of much-needed news about an uncertain economic recovery.

With the last few automakers finally reporting, the industry appeared to continue gaining momentum despite worries about fuel prices and other economic issues. General Motors boosted its forecast for all of 2012 by a full 500,000 vehicles, to somewhere between 14 million and 14.5 million.

Automotive News, a major automotive industry trade publication, takes a slightly less optimistic, more somber view of the same data:

U.S. light vehicle sales rose 2 percent last month to 1.2 million units, slightly above analysts’ expectations, as consumers continued to snap up new cars and other fuel-efficient models.

In another sign the U.S. auto industry continues a steady recovery, light vehicles sold at an annualized rate of 14.4 million last month. That’s up from 13.1 million a year earlier and matched March’s 14.4 million rate.

Still, the 2 percent gain marked the smallest monthly increase since July and reflected an industry struggling to sustain the increases in previous years as the U.S. market pulled out of recession. Sales rose 20 percent in April 2010 and 18 percent in April last year.

While the recent dip in gasoline prices helped spur sales, low inventories constrained deliveries at some automakers, said Paul Taylor, chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“New car sales reflect the patch of slower economic growth currently,” Taylor said. “By the end of May, we will know how much sales in the first four months of the year were a result of a particularly warm first quarter.”

AN points out the holes in the MSNBC story, that many of the winners were foriegn companies:

Volkswagen Group set the pace with a 27 percent increase in April deliveries.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. posted U.S. sales declines for April while the pace of gains slowed at Chrysler Group. Toyota Motor Corp. generated another double-digit increase.

GM sales fell 8 percent and Ford was down 5 percent. It was the largest decline for each automaker since August 2010.

Chrysler’s 20 percent gain marked its smallest since July. Toyota’s 12 percent increase followed a 15 percent gain in March, signaling the automaker’s ongoing recovery from last year’s natural disasters in Asia.

Nissan Motor Co. said its April sales were flat, The Hyundai-Kia Group rose 1 percent. It was the first time in 20 months that the Korean pair failed to record a double-digit U.S. gain.

U.S. light vehicle sales have now increased 10 percent this year to 4.65 million units.

Among major automakers, Chrysler, Hyundai-Kia and Toyota have gained share this year, while GM, Ford, and Honda have lost ground. Nissan’s share of the market has remained flat.

GM raised its forecast for 2012 U.S. light vehicle sales by a half million units, to a range of 14 million to 14.5 million.

“We expect gradual improvement in the economy going forward,” Don Johnson, head of U.S. sales operations for GM, said in a statement. “Over time, strength in the manufacturing sector and strong retail sales will lead to more job creation. That will help more consumers put the recession behind them.”

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. also came within 1,614 sales of outselling Ford in posting its sixth straight monthly increase.

“With consumer confidence improving, we expect to see sustained industry growth in the months ahead,” Bob Carter, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales, said in a statement.

So MSNBC bases their exuberance on what? The fact that forecasts have increased? Even as real sales from GM and Ford are down and Chrysler’s appears to be slowing?

Forecasts are just some analysts opinion of what could happen…maybe even in the best situations, what is likely to happen.

For the past three years, the words “unexpectedly” and “lower” have been associated with much of our forecasting.

I’d say that this makes for a situation hardly worthy of a headline stating affirmatively that happy days are here again.

As I tell my folks – when you are at zero, increasing something just to 1 is an infinite increase, 1 to 2 is 100% – it gets harder after that.

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