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New Car Sales Set to Slow

kelleyThrough the first three weeks in October, the seasonal fourth-quarter slowdown in new-car sales clearly is in full effect, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Kelley Blue Book expects new-vehicle sales to drop to 14.7 million seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) in October, after hitting 14.9 million last month. Analysts expect declines in both fleet and retail sales.

Fleet sales likely will decline 20,000 to 25,000 units overall, while retail sales will drive the remaining decline.

Although sales have dropped month-over-month, they remain high compared to this time last year. Sales will improve 10.7 percent versus October 2011, led by strong sales of fuel-efficient compact cars.

Kelley Blue Book expects compact cars such as the Honda Civic, Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus to increase nearly 44 percent in October, coinciding with the highest fuel prices on record for this time of year.