U.S. auto sales in November may hit 13.6 million (SAAR) – forecast image

Edmunds reports that Thanksgiving weekend helped boost U.S. auto sales in November to almost 991,296 vehicles sold, the highest rate of the year.

That would top the 12.3 million mark pace of a year earlier and October’s 13.3 million rate, which was the best month since sales were helped by “cash for clunkers” in August 2009.

According to Bloomberg, U.S. consumers spent almost 53 billion over the four-day Thanksgiving Day weekend, the highest total ever recorded during the traditional start to the holiday shopping season.

“Confidence has bounced back to levels last seen during the summer. Consumers’assessment of current conditions finally improved, after six months of steady declines,”said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center.

Ford Motor Co., on Tuesday said U.S. auto sales rose in November, led by sales of small sport-utility vehicles.

“There’s reason to feel good about November,” Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst, said. “We think there’s probably a level that would put us in the mid-13-million range as an industry.”

However, for most of the Japanese automakers, November might be again another weak month, mostly because of problems caused by the floods in Thailand.

At the 42th Tokyo Motor Show, Tetsuo Iwamura CEO of Honda US., told reporters that November will be another down month for the automaker, which was particularly hard-hit by the production disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and more recently by flood in Thailand that choked off the supply of some electronic components.