August U.S. auto sales seen falling about 3 percent

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[September 01, 2016]  By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT (Reuters) - August U.S. auto sales on Thursday are seen declining around 3 percent from a year ago, as it appears that sales this year may not top the record set in 2015.

Major U.S. carmakers will issue sales reports throughout the day, the largest ones coming in the morning.

August U.S. sales on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate are seen at 17.25 million vehicles, with forecasts ranging from 16.9 million to 18 million vehicles, according to a survey of 35 economists by Thomson Reuters.

"We continue to remind investors that we believe we are in a plateauing U.S. light vehicle sales environment, and do not think that we have 'peaked,' as that would imply a material drop in sales," said Buckingham Research Group.

July's U.S. sales were surprisingly strong, which may have pressured August sales, according to Buckingham.

Sales hit a record 17.47 million vehicles in 2015, and most analysts believe that results this year will be down slightly. RBC Capital Markets, for instance, forecast 17.3 million vehicles while others such as Kelly Blue Book see sales beating last year's mark.

August results for General Motors Co <GM.N>, the largest automaker in the U.S. market by sales, are seen down around 5.5 percent, according to analysts polled by Reuters, while Ford Motor Co <F.N> was down between 7 percent and 10 percent.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's <FCAU.N><FCHA.MI> sales were either just below or just above year-ago figures, while Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> was also on par with a year ago.

Some analysts forecast small sales gains and others small sales losses for Toyota, No. 3 in the U.S. market, and FCA, No. 4.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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