GM’s U.S. sales for June likely to underperform

A number of analysts predict that General Motors’ June U.S. sales will underperform the overall auto industry, putting the company in danger of losing market share at a critical time.

GM has issued 44 recalls covering 20 million cars and trucks this year as it undergoes a top-to-bottom safety review in the wake of a mishandled recall of small cars. So far, GM has announced or taken charges totaling $2 billion to cover recall costs.

While the spate of safety problems may be partly at fault, analysts say sales also could be hurt by a pullback on discounts and a drop in sales to rental car companies. A subpar month could drop GM’s market share from the 17.6 percent it held at the end of May.

Britain’s housing market may be riding for a fall

Concerns are mounting that Britain’s housing market is overinflated, with London house prices rising almost 19 percent in 12 months.

Experts fear it is fueled by debt and the market might come crashing down, as it did in the U.S. during the financial crisis, dragging the country into recession and leaving millions of homeowners with properties that are worth less than their mortgages.

To avoid such a scenario, the Bank of England on Thursday announced measures to tighten credit and cool off the sector.

Holiday travel on the rise despite higher gas prices

Highways will be packed once again this July Fourth weekend, with 41 million Americans expected to travel at least 50 miles or more.

That’s up about 2 percent from the 40.3 million who traveled during last year’s Independence Day weekend, according to auto club AAA.

The calendar is helping to push up the number of vacationers. The holiday falls on a Friday this year, making it an easy three-day weekend for many travelers.

As usual, the vast majority of travelers will be using their cars: 85 percent. Gas currently costs $3.68 a gallon, up nearly 13 cents from the same time last year..

Price of oil slips slightly after Iraq fears ease

The price of oil fell Thursday as fears diminished somewhat over supply disruptions from Iraq.

Benchmark U.S. crude for August delivery slipped 66 cents per barrel to $105.85 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, eased 79 cents to $113.21 a barrel in London.

Oil production and exports from the giant fields clustered in Iraq’s south remain unaffected. July exports are expected to average about 2.57 million barrels per day, Platts forecasts.

– From news service reports