Wholesale used-vehicle prices rose in February, especially for small and mid-range cars, the nation's two largest auto auction companies say.
The average wholesale price of used vehicles in February was $9,491, reports ADESA Inc.'s Analytical Services. That figure was up 5.2 percent over the year-ago month.
Tom Kontos, ADESA's vice president of industry relations and analytical services, says strong retail demand and a tight supply of used vehicles pushed prices upward.
The number of off-lease vehicles that returned to the wholesale market last year declined to 1.5 million units, about 500,000 below 2003 levels, Kontos says. The decline is continuing this year, but he predicts it will taper off.
The number of off-lease vehicles to drop by 200,000 to 1.3 million this year, Kontos predicts.
ADESA reports small and mid-range cars had the strongest year-over-year increase in average wholesale price in February. The average price of those cars increased by 11.6 percent over February 2004, to $7,563.
The average wholesale price of large used SUVs fell 5.2 percent from the year-ago month, to $14,870.
Manheim's used-vehicle index stood at 110.3 in February. That figure was up from 104.8 in February 2004 and 108.8 in January. Manheim Chief Economist Tom Webb says a rebound in employment rates strengthened the used-vehicle market. Early and bigger federal income tax refunds also aided, he says.
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