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Car sales hurt by flagging economy

DETROIT, April 2 (UPI) -- Major U.S. carmakers reported plunging sales in the first quarter of 2008 as analysts said the flagging economy was cutting into sales of big ticket items.

Chrysler LLC said U.S. sales in March dropped 19.4 percent from a year ago. General Motors Corp. reported a decline of 18.7 percent and Ford Motor Co. a decline of 14.1 percent. Toyota reported sales fell 10.3 percent, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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"It's just not a good time to even think about buying a new vehicle," Bob Schnorbus, chief economist at J.D. Power and Associates told the newspaper. "Consumers are feeling the pinch of higher prices in just everything that is a basic need."

Car companies are bracing for a bad year, the report said.

"I'd like to be able to tell you that the worst is behind us, but I really can't give you that assurance," said Ford Sales and Marketing Chief Jim Farley.

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