New car sales are expected to rise slightly in July, according to

Edmunds, the vehicle buying service, is predicting a small increase in sales for the first time in several months when the industry releases a partial list of sales numbers next week.

The forecast by Edmunds estimates sales will total 1.38 million new cars and trucks in July for an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate or SAAR of 16.5 million, which reflects a 9.3% decrease in sales from June 2019 but a 0.5% increase from July 2018.

July is expected to be the first month in 2019 to show a boost in monthly auto sales compared to 2018. However, Edmunds experts caution this is not yet the first sign of a turnaround.

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“A lot of people are enjoying vacations and family time in July, so it’s generally not a strong month for auto sales. The fact that automakers could eke out a slight gain is encouraging but not necessarily indicative of a positive trend,” said Jeremy Acevedo, Edmunds’ senior manager of insights.

“The extra selling day makes things look a little better than they really are, and we still believe sales will continue to trend downward through the back half of the year.”

Despite July not traditionally being a strong month for sales, automakers are expected see “eke out” a small gain.

Edmunds analysts also noted that dealers are starting to get more motivated to move aging inventory off their lots, which is also expected to augment July sales.

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“The model-year sell down is in full swing,” said Acevedo.

“We’re seeing old cars lingering on dealer lots a bit longer than they should, which means that shoppers could see more attractive sales events as we head into the end of summer,” he said.

Car sales also could get a boost if the Federal Reserve Board elects to cut interest rates by one quarter point as many now expect.

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General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler N.V. no longer report sales totals monthly. But Edmunds estimated that GM will have a good month in July as did Hyundai/Kia while sales and Ford, FCA, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Volkswagen/Audi are on track to drop during July.

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