Used vehicle prices slip in Oct. after long climb

AP News
Posted: Nov 06, 2009 11:04 AM

Used vehicle prices edged lower in October, according to a closely watched index, ending a three-month climb that brought prices to their highest level the previous month.

Wholesale used vehicle prices fell 0.9 percent in October from September when adjusted for seasonality, according to the Manheim Used Vehicle Value Index. The index measures wholesale rather than retail prices paid by consumers, but retail prices usually reflect wholesale prices.

But secondhand vehicle prices still remain elevated compared with last year, with October prices jumping 12.7 percent from 2008. The index in October measured 117.4, with a value of 100 representing used vehicle prices in January 1995.

"Given that wholesale prices had reached record levels, October's pullback was neither unexpected nor alarming," according to the Manheim report, released on Friday.

In September, the Manheim index reached its highest level ever at 118.5, as tight wholesale inventories sent prices soaring.

Used vehicle prices have been climbing for most of the year, largely due to a combination of tight used and new vehicle inventory and higher demand from strapped consumers. Car buyers in the tough economy have largely shunned new vehicles, with new car sales plunging to record-low levels earlier this year.

But consumers have been gradually returning to new cars recently. New vehicle sales in the U.S. showed signs of life last month, as sales remained level compared with October last year. Some big automakers, like General Motors Co., reported higher sales compared with the year-ago period.