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February auto sales to rise in sustained post-recession recovery

220px-Car_dealership_in_Rockville_Maryland_JeepU.S. auto sales are expected to rise this month to more than 15 million vehicles for the fourth straight month since the 2008 financial crisis, an indication of sustained recovery post-recession.

Reuters analysts predicted an average four percent increase in February sales to an annualized, seasonally adjusted rate of 15.1 million vehicles, though forecasts have ranged from 14.9 million to 15.75 million, according to Fox Business.

Official sales numbers for February will be available on Friday. Monthly auto sales are an indicator of consumer spending, which accounts for approximately 70 percent of GDP.

“Car sales are persevering despite economic factors on people’s minds like rising gas prices and the implementation of the payroll tax,” Jessica Caldwell, an Edmunds.com analyst, said, Fox Business reports. “Pent-up demand and widespread access to credit are keeping up car sales momentum.”

The average American car on the road is 11-years-old, the oldest group of cars ever on U.S. roads.

Auto sales began to plummet in 2008 and hit a 28-year low of 10.4 million vehicles in 2009. A four-month streak of auto sales over 15 million on an annualized basis has not been seen since 2008, the year a 10-year streak ended, according to Fox Business.

Jesse Toprak, an analyst at TrueCar.com, said that pent-up demand from small businesses seeking to purchase full-sized pickup trucks, even in the face of rising gas prices, is a critical factor in February sales, which he predicts will rise by 17 percent to an annualized sales rate of 15.7 million vehicles.

While Honda and Nissan reduced incentive spending, which is used to push slow-selling car models, 39 percent and 24 percent, respectively, from last February, Hyundai and Kia increased incentive spending by 19 percent this month, Fox Business reports.

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