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US auto sales slow in January

[NEW YORK] US auto sales slowed in January after a record year in 2015, the huge East Coast weekend snowstorm late in the month adding to a lull in consumer demand.

General Motors delivered 203,745 cars and trucks in the month, up a bare 0.5 per cent from a year ago, while Ford sales fell 2.6 per cent to 173,723 units.

FCA US, the US arm of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, turned in a better month, with an overall gain of 6.9 per cent to 155,037 units.

Even so, sales were slightly better than analysts had forecast, given that the fourth weekend of the month saw dealerships shut down in much of the northeast due to a heavy snowstorm.

US auto sales touched a new high in 2015 as a surge in job growth boosted household incomes and cheap credit encouraged buying.

Some 17.47 million vehicles were sold in the United States last year, nearly 70,000 more than the record set 15 years earlier, according to Autodata.

Views remain mixed as to whether the strong gains can continue through 2016.

"We believe industry fundamentals such as the age of the vehicle fleet, well-managed inventory levels, firm used-car pricing, good credit availability and low fuel prices will support higher industry sales in 2016," said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM's chief economist, in a statement.

"In addition, household balance sheets are strong and the labor market continues to improve."


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