The West

New-vehicle sales trend stays flat
New-vehicle sales trend stays flat

The trend in new motor vehicle sales remains flat, despite a blip up in commercial vehicle sales most likely prompted by a new tax break.

The number of vehicles sold fell by 0.8 per cent in July, according to seasonally adjusted figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

The bureau's estimate of the tend, which smooths out the more volatile seasonally adjusted data, has flattened a monthly growth rate of just 0.2 per cent, down from nearly one per cent a month earlier in the year.

The $5,000 immediate tax write-off for new vehicle sales, announced in the budget handed down in May 2011, appears to have boosted July sales figures.

Sales of passenger cars and sport-utility vehicles, a category including four wheel drives and other off-road capable vehicles - fell by 3.8 per cent in July, seasonally adjusted.

But sales of other vehicles, a category dominated by business vehicles like trucks, vans and utes, jumped by 11.1 per cent.

That rise was not quite enough to offset weakness elsewhere, however.

And it is unclear whether that blip in non-passenger vehicle sales represents a shift to a new, higher level of sales or simply a one-off rise as sales held over from before July 1 come through.

Weakness in the building industry, a major user of commercial vehicles, suggests the July rise is likely to be a one-off.

If so, the trend may turn out to be even weaker than the current downward slope indicates, suggesting labour-intensive sectors of the economy are stil doing it tough.

That would certainly be consistent with the latest labour force figures, released on Thursday, which showed employment growth at less than half the pace needed to stop unemployment rising over time.

The West Australian

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