All 3 members of Detroit's "Big 3" automakers posted large gains in September, with Chrysler's increases managing to best those of competitors Ford and General Motors. The financial reports promise to stay rosy through at least the rest of 2011, helping cap another year of triumph after the 2008 recession crashes and reinventions by all three companies.
Surprisingly, truck sales led the charge. The corporations' traditional mainstay brands -- Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge and Chrysler -- accounted for the majority of sales by each company.
Here are some of the details about the Big 3's sales jump in September.
* Analysts are saying the increase in truck sales over cars may well have been influenced by the dip in gasoline prices. Truck sales had sharply declined in the months where the cost of fuel was on the rise.
* More truck sales means more overall profits, which is good news as each corporation continues to work on building a more stable future in lieu of the near-collapse of the American auto industry in 2008. That collapse led GM and Chrysler to declare bankruptcy, while Ford only narrowly missed having to do the same.
* Chrysler had the strongest sales gains, with an increase of about 27 percent. General Motors was up 20 percent, while Ford posted gains of 9 percent.
* Chrysler's sales were led by the Dodge Ram, which accounted for 42 percent of the company's overall sales. The Chrysler 200 and the Jeep Wrangler made up a significant portion of the rest of the 127,334 vehicles the company sold.
* Chevrolet accounted for about 70 percent of GM's sales, led by the Silverado and the Tahoe SUV. The company sold 207,145 vehicles. Truck sales increased 34 percent over the same time last year, while car sales rose 12 percent over last year.
* Ford's sales were lead by its F-series pickup trucks. Truck sales accounted for approximately 42 percent of the 175,199 total vehicles sold. The Ford Escape and Fusion were second and third in sales company-wide.
* Analysts are predicting September auto sales totals reached about $12.8 million, the highest mark since April and $1 million higher than the overall totals in September 2010.
* Word of the Big 3's gains comes on the heels of the positive conclusion to the contract negotiations between GM and the UAW last month. Ford is expected to finish negotiations shortly, at which point the union will more fully focus on its relationship with Chrysler, which is strained after contract talks reached a stalemate in mid-September.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in politics and public issues.
Copper prices fell Monday as new concerns the Greek debt crisis overshadowed improvements in U.S. manufacturing, auto sales and construction spending.
Copper ended the day down less than 1 percent. Investors were encouraged by the economic data but kept most of their focus on broader concerns about the U.S. and European economies and China's growth. Other commodities were mostly lower, with the exception of gold, silver and wheat.
The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group, said its manufacturing index rose to 51.6 in September. Measures of production and exports grew but a gauge of new orders was unchanged.
Builders spent more on homes, office buildings and other projects in August after a big decline in July, according to the Commerce Department. The industry remains below levels considered healthy. Auto sales also rose in September, largely because consumers bought more pickups and SUVs.
The reports were released after Greece said it will miss deficit reduction targets it agreed to as part of an deal to receive another round of emergency funding. That is creating more pressure on European leaders to resolve the crisis.
"The macroeconomic situation continues to be ... the prevailing factor in this market," said Dave Meger, vice president of metals trading at Vision Financial Markets.
"You'll see tidbits that change the picture slightly but, all in all, it's the same focus on the economy, focus on European sovereign debt, focus on concerns about China's growth," he said.
Copper for December delivery fell 0.15 cent to end at $3.1505 a pound after earlier falling as low as $2.99 a pound. January platinum fell $6.50 to finish at $1,517.10 an ounce and December palladium dropped $20.80 to $593.75 an ounce.
Gold and silver both increased. Investors consider them relatively stable assets during times of economic uncertainty. December gold rose $35.40 to end at $1,657.70 an ounce and December silver increased 71.2 cents to $30.795 an ounce.
CPM Group analyst Carlos Sanchez said he expects gold to range between $1,600 an ounce and $2,000 an ounce for the rest of the year as leaders around the world work to improve their economies.
In other trading, oil fell to the lowest price of the year. Benchmark oil fell $1.59 to end at $77.61 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Heating oil fell 2.64 cents to finish at $2.7529 per gallon, gasoline futures fell 2.71 cents to $2.511 per gallon and natural gas fell 4.9 cents to $3.617 per 1,000 cubic feet.
December wheat rose 10.25 cents to finish at $6.195 per bushel, December corn was unchanged at $5.925 per bushel and November soybeans fell 1.5 cents to $11.775 per bushel.
Oil slipped to its lowest level in more than a year as fears of another recession spread.
Here's a breakdown of how energy prices traded Monday.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange:
Crude fell $1.59 to end at $77.61 per barrel.
Gasoline dropped 2.71 cents to finish at $2.511 per gallon.
Heating oil lost 2.64 cents to end at $2.7529 per gallon.
Natural gas fell 4.9 cents to finish at $3.617 per 1,000 cubic feet.
On the ICE Futures exchange in London:
Brent crude fell $1.05 to end at $101.71 per barrel.