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Big 3 report mixed auto sales

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The "big 3" automakers reported their July total vehicle sales this afternoon with General Motors (NYSE:GM) $45.88 -1.43% saying its July U.S. total vehicle sales jumped 24% from a year ago to 465,843 units, with results being driven higher by a 36% gain in truck sales to total 268,620 units. Car sales at the world's #1 automaker rose 11% to 197,223.

Number 2 automaker Ford (NYSE:F) $13.08 -2.96% said that sales for the month of July rose a more modest 1.5% from last year as truck sales increased despite a decline in its most popular F- series. July's increase is the first year-over-year rise for 2002 and shows a 4% gain in retail sales and a 9% decline in sales to corporate customers and rental companies. Ford's total sales for the month, the first year-over-year increase this year, came in at 319,975 units.

DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX) $42.20 -1.3% the number 3 automaker said that sales for July fell -4% from last year to 185,602 units. While car sales jumped 17%, truck, minivan and SUV sales declined. DCX executives said that sales to fleet customers are stabilizing and retail sales are up when compared with last year. By brand, Chrysler-label models fell 1% to 41,255 units, Jeep fell 8% to 39,535 units and Dodge fell 3% to 104,812 as truck sales declined 12% to 78,023.

Among other automakers releasing month's sales data, Subaru said it had a record July at 7,609 units.

Toyota (NYSE:TM) $48.76 +1.64% said that its July U.S. sales set a record, up 4.6% from last year's record to hit 156,053 units. That strength came from a 9.4% increase in passenger car sales to 87,680 units, which was lead by strong sales results with the new Camry. Truck and SUV's, however, fell 1% from last year's 68,373 units.

Nissan said July sales rose 2.4% from last year, lead by a 34% increase in its Infiniti line.

Paint dry session

It remains a rather narrowly contested trading session after this morning's lower open. The Dow Industrials have been locked in a range from 8,516 to 8,600 for the better part of this afternoon.

Treasuries have closed for trading and have all finished near their lower YIELDS of the session. This is similar to yesterday afternoons trading, when stocks found some bidders from short- covering and we might see similar in the final hour again today.

Traders may want to monitor the final hour's action for any DIVERGENCE from yesterday, but up to now, it has been a rather uneventful session.

Jeff Bailey
Senior Market Technician
Option Investor

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