U.S. Auto Sales Up in March image

Due to the improvement of the economy and easier financing, the U.S. auto sales continue at a strong pace in March , capping the best quarter in four years for new vehicle purchases.

“The strong U.S. data should help support first-quarter earnings and potentially offset any greater than expected softness in Europe,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Joseph Spak said in a research note.

March sales are expected to hit an annualized pace of 14.75 million units, up from 13.3 million compared to last year, but down from 15.1 million in February. Analysts say that the unseasonably warm weather from last month drew out American car shoppers and that the rise in gas prices to near $4 coupled with high used car prices also prompted some consumers to buy new vehicles earlier than planned.

“The current level of gas prices will further accelerate the release of pent-up demand as consumers lean towards significantly more fuel efficient new vehicles while used prices are still strong,” Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said.

From the expected 14.5 million vehicles sold in March, passenger cars are to represent 53%, pickup trucks and SUVs 47%, compared to 51% for trucks and SUVs and 49% for cars in 2011.