DETROIT (Reuters) - The shutdown of the federal government put a crimp in U.S. auto sales in the first half of October, but new-vehicle purchases for the month will still rise 8 percent from a year ago, J.D. Power and LMC Automotive said on Thursday.
The two consultancies jointly forecast October sales of 15.4 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis.
John Humphrey, senior vice president of J.D. Power's global automotive practice, said that while sales took a hit during the government shutdown during the first 16 days of the month, they have since rebounded.
"Sales in the third week of the month strengthened relative to the first two weeks, which is evidence of vehicle buyers delaying their purchase until the shutdown was resolved," Humphrey said.
Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, said the group's 2013 forecast remains unchanged at 15.6 million new vehicles sold, up from 14.5 million last year.
While Schuster said that U.S. auto sales of more than 16 million vehicles is "well within reach" next year, he cautioned that consumer confidence may suffer if the U.S. Congress again goes into gridlock as it considers raising the national debt ceiling.
EDMUNDS, KELLEY BLUE BOOK FORECASTS
Forecasters Edmunds.com and Kelley Blue Book also showed expectations of auto sales gains for the month.
Edmunds.com was the most bullish of the three agencies that issued forecasts on Thursday, predicting a 13 percent rise in sales and an annualized rate of 15.5 million vehicles.
Kelley Blue Book said October U.S. auto sales will rise 12 percent, and an annualized sales rate for the month of 15.4 million vehicles.
KBB said major automakers will all show increases in October sales from a year ago. These include General Motors Co, with 8 percent growth; Ford Motor Co, up 14 percent; Toyota Motor Corp, up 16 percent; Chrysler Group LLC, up 12.5 percent; and Honda Motor Co, up 12 percent.
Edmunds also estimated gains for the top five automakers in U.S. sales, with GM up 10 percent, Ford up 15.5 percent, Toyota up 15.2 percent, Chrysler up 11 percent, and Honda up 12.6 percent.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Richard Chang)