American auto sales top 13m

 
Julian Harris
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AMERICAN auto sales hit their highest level in 16 months in December, it was revealed yesterday.

The figures surpassed expectations and marked the end of a strong year for the formerly troubled industry.

Economists had predicted sales of 12.3m, yet the annual sales rate for December jumped above 13m, according to initial data from major automakers.

US vehicle sales rose more than 11 per cent in 2010, reversing a four-year slide. The figures are a snapshot of consumer demand and bode well for the economic recovery in the new year.

The previous decline in the industry had ended in controversial government bailouts for GM and Chrysler.

Ford, however, avoided a bailout. Car makers now believe that sales for 2011 can also exceed 13m.

“It was stronger than we thought,” commented Ford’s George Pipas on the results.

And there was also good news for US manufacturing, as factory orders rose 0.7 per cent in November.

Orders excluding transportation recorded their largest gain in eight months, fueling dollar buying versus the euro.

The result surprised analysts who had expected orders to either level out or actually decline, after orders fell by 0.7 per cent the previous month.

FAST FACTS | US AUTO SALES

General Motors annualised sales rose 7.5 per cent in December.

Ford sales increased by 6.7 per cent over the same period, while shares rose by over 70 per cent.