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January US market disappoints hopes for growth

Adjusted for seasonal selling patterns, January new registrations in the US were at an annual rate of about 16.1 million, which, with declines in market share by GM and Ford, has affected automotive share prices. Forecasts had expected some 400,000 more sales.

GM and Ford shares both dropped 1.7% and DaimlerChrysler dropped 2.5%, despite Chrysler's fourth month in a row of sales increases, fuelled by $2,000 cashback and low finance offers.

While Chrysler sales rose 9% in January, Ford's dropped 5.2%, and GM's by 2.1% despite numerically more sales, allowance made for one extra selling day compared to January 2003.

January witnessed continuing inroads by Japanese brands – Toyota up 15.6%, Nissan up 25.7%; Honda narrowly beat its 2003 January record but its average daily sales were marginally down year on year. Hyundai saw last year's growth trend reversed.

J D Power commented that changes to seasonal factors measured by the US Federal Reserve lowered the January 2004 sales rate by about 300,000 units.

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