U.S. Auto Sales Beat Expectations in December

In December, U.S. automakers announced better-than-expected sales, which is a sign that the auto industry is on the way to set a record for 2016.

On Wednesday, General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) reported an increase of 10% in U.S. auto sales in December, which surpassed previous estimates of 3.5%. The company’s Chevrolet brand rose 12.8% to 212,959 vehicles.

“We finished 2016 with a strong December, reflecting the continued strength of GM’s U.S. retail and commercial businesses,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations, said in the statement. “We begin 2017 well positioned to continue growing our U.S. retail business, driven by all-new products like the Chevrolet Equinox and Traverse being launched into key, growing U.S. market segments.”

Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) reported sales in December to rise 0.3% to 239,854 units, which also beat estimations of 2.5% drop. The company said its F-Series pickups gained best results in 11 years.

However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V (NYSE: FCAU) reported a drop of 10%, which was due to a planned cutback in daily rental sales. It was expected to decrease between 10% and 15% by analysts. Fiat said that its Ram truck brand increase 10% in sales, and its Jeep brand dropped 6% in December.

The auto industry is expected to experience the first decline in eight years in 2017, decreasing 200,000 vehicles. “We are deep in the auto cycle: rising interest rates, weakening residuals, and potential tightening in financing availability are likely to limit upside,” said Brian Johnson, an analyst in Barclays.

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