DETROIT -- Sales of domestically built cars and light trucks dropped 10 percent in May from a year earlier, but on a seasonally adjusted basis car sales alone were slightly stronger than in the previous month, leading to some hope that the automotive recession may have bottomed out.
Car sales, a barometer of economic health, are being closely watched for signs that a recovery may be under way. But statistics from a single 10-day period or just one month are often misleading, as they were in January and February when many analysts thought the bottom of the automotive downturn had been reached. Subsequent sales reports in March and April were weak, squelching the optimism.
The seasonally adjusted annual rate of car sales in May was 6 million, compared with 5.5 million in April.
Sales of what are considered domestically built cars -- those made in the United States and Canada -- dropped 9.8 percent in May, to 579,406, compared with 642,304 a year earlier. Light-truck sales dropped 10.4 percent, to 338,074, from 377,281 a year ago.