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JD Power-LMC say November U.S. auto sales up 12 percent

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. auto sales are rebounding after Superstorm Sandy cut sales in late October and early November, and this month should show a 12 percent increase from a year before, consultants JD Power & Associates and LMC Automotive said on Wednesday.

November auto sales have been rising each week, and there are signs that December will be a strong sales month to end the best year for U.S. auto sales since before the financial crisis of 2008, JD Power said.

On a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, November sales are seen at 15 million new vehicles, LMC and JD Power said. That would be the highest monthly sales rate of the year, topping the 14.94 million rate for September.

Total light vehicle auto sales for November are expected to be 1.11 million vehicles, up 2.2 percent from October, the consultants said in a joint statement.

The U.S. fleet of vehicles is about 11 years old, and the need to replace aging vehicles has been cited as a reason for increased auto sales all year.

"The irrepressible need and willingness of consumers to replace aging vehicles is stronger than the effects of natural disasters and fiscal turmoil both here and abroad," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive said.

"A sustained recovery pace in auto sales is expected over the next six months, barring any fiscal cliff hangover, but the medium-term forecast is still dependent on more pronounced economic activity and growth."

LMC Automotive also maintained its 2012 full-year forecast of 14.4 million vehicles, which would be a 12.5 percent rise from 2011.

The auto industry has been steadily recovering since 2009, when U.S. sales hit a 28-year low of 10.4 million vehicles.

(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Carol Bishopric)

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