Plunging stocks could take auto industry for a ride

FRESNO, California

At least for now, new car sales are holding steady. Auto experts, including several Valley car dealers said they hope new car sales will either stay flat or go up slightly.

But, with stocks going drastically up and down the next few months could be a bumpy road.

The options are endless for new car buyers as auto lots are full of cars, trucks and SUV's. But getting the vehicles off the lot and into driveways is tougher than ever.

"We just focus on the task at hand and everyday come in and try to earn someone's business and make people happy," said Tim Finegan Jr. Finegan is a sales manager at Fresno Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram.

He said incentives are better than ever. With loans anywhere from zero to two percent financing, Finegan said it's a buyer's market.

But an industry trend expert at TrueCar.com said consumers are a bit too worried about Wall Street to buy into the incentives. "Consumers tend to postpone buying cars when there's a lot of uncertainty in the economy. This time in no different, we do expect the slowdown in sales until the stock market recovers," Vice President of Industry Trends Jesse Toprak.

According to trends found on Edmonds.com and the Dow Jones Industrial Average new car sales and the Dow ride up and down together. During the past year the peaks and valleys nearly match up again, showing auto sales drop around the same time the Dow falls.

Fresno Economist Henry Nishimoto said the uncertainty is forcing people to stay away from new car lots. Instead, he said, for now consumers are dumping their money into older cars.

"I think, most people, when they make that decision they're thinking of the short run, the next 6 months to a year," Nishimoto said. "[They're] not looking any further down because anything can happen in the economy between now and then."

Industry experts said auto sales averages, like stocks will be much lower than they used to be a few years ago. But, they predict consumers will muster up enough confidence to keep both, at the very least, flat.

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