The Brazilian domestic market sales rate remained above 15,000 units daily last month, the auto sector's best April ever. Light and heavy vehicle registrations totalled 289,900 units. Yet a settling-down trend has been noted and there are signs of reduced market growth by year's end.

The first symptom is the proportion of vehicle sales bought with finance - down from 66% in March to 62% in April. A small rise in defaults was also noted but, at 3%, that's better than other industry segments.

Automakers' association Anfavea will wait until June or July to review its 5% growth forecast for 2011. Although not yet worrisome, manufacturer and dealer inventories went up from 30 to 33 days, the wrong side of the 25- to 30-day comfort level.

Employment remained on the rise – 1,400 auto industry contracts in April - but there are signs overtime is being cut back.

A strike this week at the São José dos Pinhais, state of Paraná, Volkswagen plant is over payments of annual profit sharing that, in the case of Renault and Volvo, has reached R$15,000 (US$9,500) for each Brazilian employee. The German firm, which has two other manufacturing plants in Brazil, thought that was too generous. The workers think otherwise.