October is coming to a close, which means we're within a few days of getting the bad news monthly auto sales tally. But October may not look as bad as many feared, at least according to the latest study by J.D. Power. The industry forecasting gurus see October sales down only six percent versus October 2008, showing that one of America's hardest hit industries may have already bottomed out. If October sales end up panning out like JDP thinks, it will be the first time in 17 months (outside of August's Cash for Clunkers anomaly) to see sales down under double digits. But while a mere six percent drop sounds like the sales famine is finally coming to a close, it's important to remember that auto sales for October 2008 were down themselves a full 30 percent compared to the year before.

J.D. Power is predicting that October 2009 sales come in at an annualized rate of 10.3 million units, down from last October's rate of 10.8 million cars and trucks sold. JDP's Gary Dilts goes out of his way to tell Reuters not to start celebrating over the single digit declines, but he does express some optimism adding that "improvements in consumer confidence and credit are propelling the return to positive sales gains relative to last year."

Deutsche Bank is even more optimistic about October, predicting annualized sales of 10.7 million for the month; just a fraction below last October's results. Even though the predicted sales drop of only six percent seems a bit deceiving, it does offer some hope to automakers. After months of uncertainty over just how low sales can go, it is starting to look like the worst of the auto sales decline may be behind us. Maybe.

[Source: Reuters]