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Nov 23, 2009 11:37 AM by Associated Press

Analyst predicts small auto sales comeback in 2010

A top industry analyst says the U.S. auto industry will recover only a little next year because of a weak economy.

Fitch Ratings analyst Mark Oline predicts sales of 11.1 million cars and trucks in 2010, up 7.8 percent from 10.3 million vehicles he expects this year. Oline says in a note to investors that high unemployment, lost wealth from lower housing prices and a higher consumer savings rate will limit a stronger recovery.

Even if sales grow to 11.1 million, Oline says, many automakers and parts suppliers will spend more cash than they take in. He says a double-dip recession or a spike in gas prices is still possible, and that could limit any recovery.

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