New and used auto markets started 2018 on a positive note. Although Senior Loan Officer Survey respondents reported flagging demand for new and used auto loans, 17.2 million SAAR new vehicles were sold in the first quarter, marking the third consecutive quarter of sales higher than 17 million SAAR but remaining essentially flat on year-ago basis. Consumer demand for light trucks and SUVs continued to be insatiable, even as gas prices crept higher, and the share of new sales in those segments reached a record 67%. However, underlying weakness in the new market was masked by an extra selling day in March and persistently high incentives used by auto manufacturers to compete for share as the market softens.
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