Can Detroit’s Big Three Auto Makers Offset Lower Sales from Japan?

Edmunds.com projected new auto sales will rise 8.8% in October from a year earlier. Gains from Detroit’s Big Three auto makers — General Motors (NYSE:GM), Ford (NYSE:F) and Chrysler — and Nissan Motor Co. (NSANY) should continue to offset declines from Japan’s other top manufacturers. Analysts said the industry may be in the midst of a small sales bubble on pent-up demand that has been building for more than a year.

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Several auto makers reported strong gains new-vehicle sales for September in the U.S., as improving vehicle supply and more competitive prices are driving consumers to auto showrooms despite worries about the economy. For October, Japanese auto maker Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) is expected to report a year-over-year decline of 10%. Sales for Honda Motor Co. (NYSE:HMC) sales are expected to slip 1.4%. Less affected by the inventory woes, Nissan is projected to post an 18% gain. Expected to report a 27% jump in sales from year-earlier levels, Edmunds said Chrysler Group LLC is making it again the strongest performer for the month.

“October’s sales are expected to result in a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 13.4 million light vehicles, a pace that would mark the highest monthly SAAR since August 2009, when sales were inflated by the “Cash for Clunkers” program, which offered government incentives to consumers trading in older vehicles for new, more fuel-efficient cars,” according to MarketWatch.

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