21/07/2008 - 13:42

Car sale figures drop in June for WA

21/07/2008 - 13:42

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While new motor vehicle sales rose by 1 per cent across the country over the month of June, Western Australia was near the head of the pack of states and territories to record a decline.

Car sale figures drop in June for WA

While new motor vehicle sales rose by 1 per cent across the country over the month of June, Western Australia was near the head of the pack of states and territories to record a decline.

In seasonally adjusted terms, new vehicle sales rose to 88,917 units in June, up from 88,501 units recorded in May, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria showed increases of 3 per cent, 1 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, seasonally adjusted over the June month.

Meanwhile the Northern Territory suffered the biggest drop, 3.3 per cent, followed by WA (1.2 per cent) and Tasmania (0.6 per cent).

CommSec equities economist Savanth Sebastian said car sales rose in June because people rushed to beat the rise in the luxury car sales tax and imports were cheaper thanks to a stronger Australian dollar.

However, he said it was a "pretty weak" result.

The federal government announced in its May budget that the luxury tax on cars would rise from 25 per cent to 33 per cent from July 1.

"The introduction of the luxury car tax in July should have seen consumers rush in to avoid the additional tax," Mr Sebastian said.

"The strength in the Aussie dollar is also helping to hold down the costs of new cars."

"In annual terms, new car sales hit a 18-month low," he said. "Our sales remain rather languid in annual terms."

Sales of new vehicles have fallen 2.89 per cent since their record high in January, when 91,056 units were sold.

Rising fuel prices have hit household budgets, possibly delaying or postponing the buying a new car, Mr Sebastian said.

West Texas crude futures remained above $US130 a barrel for most of June, 30 per cent higher than the start of this year.

But higher costs did not stop the sales of new passenger cars rising for the second consecutive month, up 188 units to 52,639 in June.

The sales of four-wheel-drive vehicles rose for the first time in five months, with sales increasing to 17,900 units in June, the highest level for the category since February.

"SUV (Sports Utility Vehicles) sales jumped by 5.3 per cent," Mr Sebastian said. "But that was after falling 3.9 per cent in May, the biggest decline in almost two years."

Mr Sebastian said today's figures were in line with recent economic data indicating a slowing economy, which would keep the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) pleased that its tighter monetary policy was working.

"Overall, the Reserve Bank would look at this data and it would fall in line with everything else it is receiving," he said.

"They will remain on the interest rates sidelines until at least the end of the year."

The "other" category, which includes trucks and buses, was the only sector to fall, down 1.2 per cent in June to 18,378.

Total vehicle sales from January to June were 536,824 units, seasonally adjusted.

 

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