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STAMFORD, Conn. — February's wholesale prices gained significant ground from January as well as the year-ago period, with especially strong improvements for the small to midsize car segments and the larger truck segments, according to RVI Group.

The RVI Used Car Price Index was 1.141 in February, compared with 1.107 in January and 0.954 a year ago.

Specifically, wholesale values saw a 3-percent upswing from January and a 19.6-percent gain from a "depressed" February 2009, officials said in the latest RVI Market Update.

"On the car side, the largest increases came from the small sedan and the sporty coupe segments; and from the full-size SUV and full-size pickup segments on the truck side," officials shared.

Among the price-gain leaders of cars segments, small sedan prices climbed 5.5 percent month-over-month and 22.3 percent from February 2009, and small coupes were up 4.5 percent from January and increased 11.3 percent from a year ago.

The sub-compact segment's values increased 4.2 percent from the prior month and 22.8 percent from the previous year. The compact segment saw a 3.7-percent price gain compared to January and a 12.1-percent year-over-year rise.

Looking at the strongest climbers of the truck segments, full-size SUVs were up 3.9 percent from January and 27.1 percent from the prior-year period.

Full-size pickup values increased 3.6 percent month-over-month, while jumping 22.1 percent from February 2009.

Small SUVs, meanwhile, climbed 3.6 percent and 22.3 percent on a monthly and annual basis, respectively.

Conversely, the only segments (car or truck) to show value decreases from January were small pickups (down 3.5 percent), the sports car segment (down 2.6 percent) and the luxury coupe segment (1.6 percent).

All segments saw year-over-year value increases.

Fuel Trends

Moving on, RVI also examined what has been going on with regard to gas prices. As most remember, fuel costs hit an apex in July 2008, before falling sharply then climbing steadily ever since, RVI pointed out.

Though they have climbed up from the $2.60 range in which they had "hovered" during recent months and hit $2.79 per gallon by mid-March, RVI doesn't expect it to be summer 2008 all over again.  

"After peaking in July 2008, gas prices have gone through a steep decline and then a gradual increase thereafter," analysts shared. "In the past nine months, gas prices have hovered around the $2.60 mark, and are not expected to increase dramatically in the near future.

"Recently, however, gas prices have increased to $2.79 per gallon (as of March 15)," they added. "Again, this is not the beginning of a repeat of what we experienced in mid-2008. It is simply a demand driven seasonal increase in gas prices."