A rare sentiment emerged from the auto industry today: cautious optimism. New sales figures show that Americans bought 860,000 vehicles in June, the Wall Street Journal reports. That's down 28% from last year, but it's also the smallest monthly sales drop of the year. Ford and Toyota both declared that the long slide in sales may be ending.
"The auto-industry downturn appears to be nearing a turning point," said a top Ford sales analyst. Despite that optimism, there's plenty of room for improvement: Ford sales dropped 11%, Toyota's 32%, Honda's 32%, GM's 33%, and Chrysler's 42%. A closely watched industry stat, the annual selling rate, dipped to 9.7 million cars for June, but automakers expect a boost at the end of July when the "cash for clunkers" program kicks in. (Read more Ford Motor Co. stories.)