Early look at February U.S. auto sales

|By:, SA News Editor

Automobile sales made an impressive jump in the second week of February, according to data compiled by J.D. Power.

Winter storms had auto sales for the month tracking 5% lower than a year ago, but a strong bounce has now cut the falloff to closer to 1%. A monthly forecast for 15.7M vehicles delivered is back on track with more late-month momentum expected.

Perhaps of equal importance, pricing has held up with the average transaction price of $29.9K looking good for a challenging month to get potential buyers onto dealer lots.

What to watch: Analysts know February alone won't solve the inventory issue of the Big Three (GM, F, FIATY), but an improving trend needs to be confirmed to alleviate concerns. The month will also give a good read on several head-to-head model battles between Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC).