Automakers reported mixed U.S. auto sales for January, with General Motors Co posting a 3.8 percent decline while crosstown rival Ford Motor Co topped analysts forecasts in strong truck sales.
Ford’s F-Series pickup truck sales rose 12.5 percent, while passenger cars dropped 17.5 percent, leading the company to report a decline of 0.6 percent in total sales. Industry analyst expected, on average, a fall of about 3 percent.
Overall, early auto sales reports showed results slightly better than expected, considering that both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan Motor Co surprised to the upside, reports Reuters.
The GM logo is seen at the General Motors Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant in Lansing, Michigan
FCA U.S. sales were down 11 percent while analysts forecast a decline of 16 percent. Nissan’s U.S. sales rose 6.2 percent versus forecasts for a decline of about 2.5 percent. Nissan’s Rogue SUV continued to be its top seller as sales soared 45.5 percent.
GM said it is emphasizing more profitable retail sales or those directly to consumers. Lower fleet sales to businesses and government pressured overall volume in January, said Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. sales chief. Analysts looked for GM sales to fall about 2 percent.
GM expects that U.S. January industry sales were about 17.6 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, near the forecast of 17.55 million vehicles in a poll of 40 economists by Thomson Reuters.
December’s surprisingly good showing pulled sales from January, normally the weakest month of the year in terms of sales volume. Some analysts cautioned against putting too much emphasis on last month’s annualized selling rate.
Still, the overall U.S. auto market remained on a roll, with rising sales the past seven years, and record highs for the past two, they said. Each month, auto sales are an early indicator of U.S. consumer spending.
Last year ended surprisingly strong. December U.S. sales were 18.43 million on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, far outpacing expectations of 17.7 million vehicles.
The industry is optimistic about hitting another record in 2017 on expectations of pro-growth economic and regulatory policies from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Even with U.S. consumer confidence falling in January, households remained upbeat about the labor market, suggesting the economy would continue to grow this year. December’s consumer confidence reading was the strongest in 15 years.