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LMC Auto: New-Vehicle Sales to Slow in Second Half

After a strong first half of the year - including double-digit sales growth in the U.S. - the North American new-vehicle market will likely see some cooling during the rest of the year, according to LMC Automotive.

For the U.S., in particular, new-car sales were steady in July; however, LMC Automotive has scaled back its forecast for full-year sales here because of "higher economic-driven risk."

Specifically, the firm is now projecting sales of 14.3 million vehicles, down from its earlier forecast of 14.5 million sales. Moreover, the 2013 full-year forecast had called for 15.2 million new-car sales, and that has been trimmed to 15.0 million.

"The United States and Canada posted stable selling rates in July, but the growth rate for the remainder of the year is no longer expected to be as strong, as the economy cools and concerns with Europe rise," explained Jeff Schuster, the company's senior vice president of forecasting.

"However, we do expect the North American market to be able to ride out the potential storm, albeit at a lower level," he added.

During the first half of the year, the U.S. posted a 15-percent sales uptick, while Canadian sales climbed 7 percent and Mexican sales climbed 12 percent.

Globally, LMC Automotive is forecasting new-vehicle sales of 79.4 million, which would beat record sales of 75.5 million new vehicles in 2011.

However, what happens in Europe could be pivotal towards shaping the future direction of the global market.

"As the level of uncertainty rises as the result of the European crisis and its impact on other markets, so does the amount of pressure on auto sales around the world," said Schuster. "All eyes are on Europe for a signal of the direction, as volume growth holds in 2012, but remains at risk next year."