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Auto sales projected to slump in 2007: WSJ

Auto sales already on track to decline this year could faces their lowest level in nearly a decade in 2007 because of slowing growth in the economy and the housing-industry slump, according to a media report Monday.
The impact of the housing slump is likely to be hard on the Big Three because slower housing starts cause builders to defer purchases of pickup trucks, which are Detroit's most profitable models, The Journal said.

IRN, a Michigan market researcher, is now forecasting U.S. 2007 sales of 16.3 million light vehicles, or cars and trucks, The Journal said.
That would be the lowest level since 1998 and a drop of 300,000 from this year's expected sales of 16.6 million vehicles, according to the report.
"To be honest, there is a lot more downside risk to that than there is a chance it gets better," The Journal said it was told by Erich Merkle, IRN's director of forecasting.
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