Economic Report: New auto prices no longer going up as sales level off


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The cost of buying a new car might fall in 2016 for the first time since 2009.

Prices of new autos haven’t risen since February, another sign carmakers may fall short of matching record sales in 2015.

New auto prices were unchanged in August and are down 0.1% in the last 12 months.

New auto prices have increased every year since 2009, when an industry rebound began as the U.S. exited the Great Recession. Last year a record 17.5 million new vehicles were sold.

Yet sales through August have risen at a 17 million annual rate, perhaps indicating that auto purchases are ready to level off. Millions of Americans who held onto aging vehicles because of financial insecurity have switched to new vehicles, sharply reducing the amount of pentup demand.

Executives from both Ford F, -0.04%  and General Motors GM, -0.59%  suggested after a disappointing month in August that sales may have plateaued.

Read: 7 surprising things that impact how much you pay for car insurance

More evidence can be found in prices of new autos.

Read: Consumer prices climb in August

Automakers have tried to maintain sales levels with discounts and other incentives, contributing to lower prices. How far they plan to go is unclear, however, if demand is tapering off as they eventually knew would happen.

Not every buyer can expect a price break, though. The cost of buying a new car has fallen 0.7% in the past 12 months, but prices for new trucks has edged up 0.4%. Trucks are in greater demand and they generate more profits for vehicle makers.

Prices for used vehicles, meanwhile, have fallen by an even larger amount. They have dropped six straight months and are down 4% compared to one year ago,the CPI showed.

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