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Yesterday marked the release of February light vehicle sales figures and the results again showed a loss of market share among the 'Big 3' U.S. automakers, particularly to Japanese carmakers. Ford and DaimlerChrysler reported declines in sales, 13% and 7.7% respectively, versus a year ago's sales. Reversing its own downward trend, GM said its sales rose 3.4% from the year earlier period. All three of Japan's 'Big 3' reported YoY sales increases, paced by Toyota at 12%, while Honda (3.2%) and Nissan (1.2%) also registered gains. Despite an industry-wide YoY sales drop of 0.5%, the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate held steady at 16.6 million; Bloomberg consensus estimates were for an annual rate of 16.1 million sales. Analysts had also estimated a loss of 7% for GM sales. The total market share of the U.S. 'Big 3' fell to 54% from 56.6% in February 2006. GM managed to increase its market share 1% to 24.6% total. Asian automakers up their share from 37% to 39.4%.

Sources: Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, AP
Commentary: February Light Vehicle Sales: It's All Relative, Or Is It?Winners and Losers From January's U.S. Auto Sales ReportBig 3's January U.S. Auto Sales Fall To Lowest Ever As Japanese Gain
Stocks/ETFs to watch: General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F), DaimlerChrysler (DCX), Toyota (NYSE:TM), Honda (NYSE:HMC), Nissan (OTCPK:NSANY)

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Source: GM Vehicle Sales, U.S. Market Share Rise; Japan's 'Big 3' Continue to Roll