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Auto Sales May Reach Second-Fastest Rate in 17 Months

U.S. automobile sales in January may have reached the second-fastest pace in 17 months, aided by rising business spending and consumer confidence.

January vehicle deliveries, to be released tomorrow, may have run at a 12.4 million annual rate, the average of six analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The seasonally adjusted rate in December was 12.6 million, the fastest since the government’s “cash for clunkers” program in August 2009.