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New data leads to restated annual sales rates for U.S. auto sector

New Ford vehicles occupy the lot at Koons Ford dealership in Fairfax, Virginia, in this July 24, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Fil
New Ford vehicles occupy the lot at Koons Ford dealership in Fairfax, Virginia, in this July 24, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Fil

DETROIT (Reuters) - The U.S. auto industry's weaker-than-expected overall sales results for July disappeared on Friday after the federal government released updated data used to compute the annual sales rate each month.

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) on Friday released the recalculated seasonal factors used to compute the monthly sales pace, resulting in a rate for July of 15.8 million vehicles, according to research firm Autodata. That matched analysts' expectations, rather than falling short - as it looked on Thursday when the rate was 15.67 before the recalculation.

Analysts, who had warned the BEA recalculation could shift results by several tenths of a point, had said the July sales to individual consumers, also known as retail sales, remains strong.

The recalculation, which is done annually to adjust for variations like weather and holidays, affected all figures, resulting in changes for every month.

For instance, April had been the only month this year to fall below an annual sales rate of 15 million when it initially came in at 14.92 million. The rate for April now stands at 15.19, now making October 2012 the last month to fall below 15 million.

Industry executives have said they expect sales for the U.S. auto industry to finish the year between 15 million and 15.5 million vehicles, which would be up from 14.5 million last year.

July's updated sales rate follows June's recalculated 15.88 million rate. That gives the U.S. industry two consecutive months with a strong pace of sales as it heads toward the fall, when automakers typically release new models that lure buyers into showrooms.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman)

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