Changes in how automakers price new cars and trucks helped improve wholesale prices of used vehicles last month.
March's average wholesale used-vehicle price of $10,370 was 5.3 percent higher than in the same month a year ago and 3.2 percent higher than in February 2006, ADESA Analytical Services reports.
Tom Kontos, ADESA's vice president of industry relations and analytical services, says new-vehicle pricing policies have boosted used-vehicle prices. Those policies include fewer incentives, he says.
Citing data from CNW Marketing Research, Kontos says used-vehicle retail sales rose 0.5 percent in March from the year-ago month.
Tom Webb, chief economist at Manheim, says March typically is the strongest month for wholesale used-vehicle prices.
Large numbers of consumers get and spend income-tax refunds that month, he notes.
Between January and April, Webb says, consumers pocketed an estimated $195 billion in federal tax refunds.
"Used vehicles are mainstream America," Webb told industry analysts this month.
"I believe these refunds are so important to the used-vehicle market, it has impacted the pricing patterns."
The average wholesale price of large SUVs in March was $15,174, ADESA says. That figure is 1.6 percent below the March 2005 price but 6.1 percent above the average price in February.
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