Lane watch: Spring market signal already surfaces
While it might be frigid with snow on the ground in much of the U.S., Black Book analysts are already discussing springtime because of auction activity they spotted last week.
That activity pushed the estimated average weekly sales rate up to 55%, as Black Book reported wholesale prices softened by just 0.63%, which was in line with what analysts recorded during this time in 2017-2019.
“As we progress into 2024, signs of market stabilization are emerging, with two segments reporting gains last week,” Black Book said in its newest installment of Market Insights released on Tuesday.
“Furthermore, a few segments in the 8- to 16-year-old range also had positive movement last week. The most notable increase was the compact car segment, typically an early indicator of market strength in the spring season, reporting gains,” analysts continued in the report.
On a volume-weighted basis, Black Book noticed overall car segment values decreased a bit less than the overall market, sliding by just 0.39%.
As mentioned, values for 8- to 16-year-old cars declined just 0.20%, while prices for cars up to 2 years old dropped by 0.37%, according to Black Book tracking.
Of the eight car segments that sustained value declines last week, analysts pointed out that only one — subcompact cars — depreciated by more than 1%. Those gas-sippers actually dropped by 1.05%.
And perhaps showing those spring market signs, Black Book indicated prices for compact cars actually edged up by 0.03%. As analysts put it, that’s “in sharp contrast to the last week of November,” when prices for those units sunk 4.32% in a single week.
“Three of the nine car segments aged 8-to-16-years-old reported increases last week, including compact, luxury, and sporty car,” Black Book added.
Meanwhile among trucks, wholesale values decreased a bit more, as Black Book watched overall truck prices drop by 0.73%.
That decrease was consistent no matter the age, as Black Book said 0- to 2-year-old models declined 0.65% on average while 8- to 16-year-old units dropped by 0.76% on average.
Analysts said 12 of the 13 truck segments posted price drops a week ago, with the compact luxury and midsize crossover/SUV segments reported the largest declines at 0.94% and 0.93%, respectively.
While there might be “lot parties” at both auctions and dealerships when snow falls heavily, Black Book is having its own gathering because of the intriguing turn the new year has already taken.
“The first full week of the year looked a little different than the first week of 2024, with an increase in inventory and the auction conversion rates,” analysts said. “For the first time in weeks, we are starting to see some stability in the market. We’re still seeing prices drop, but nothing like what was experienced back in November and December of 2023, could this be the start of a normal seasonal adjustment and depreciation trends?
“As always, our team of analysts are focused on keeping their eyes on the market, watching for developing trends and gathering insights,” Black Book went on to say.