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GM's, Ford's Sales Gains Continue Industry Trend

November 05, 1998| From Times Wires Services

DETROIT — General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. on Wednesday reported healthy sales gains, closing an unusually strong October for the auto industry.

GM, continuing its swift recovery from last summer's strikes, posted a 6% jump in U.S. sales. It was the first improvement from year-ago levels since June for the world's largest auto maker. Car sales rose 5.7% and sales of GM pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles and minivans grew 6.3%.

Ford's October sales rose 2%, in line with expectations, as robust demand for its pickups and sport-utility vehicles offset an 8% drop in car sales. Light-truck sales were up 10%, with the F-Series pickup setting an October record.

"Despite all that's been written about the stock market and the Asian crisis, it doesn't seem to be touching people that directly," said Mike DiGiovanni, GM's market research chief. "The fundamentals appear to still be very strong in the American economy."

With the GM and Ford results, the industry's sales of cars and light trucks in the United States surged 10% in October. Nearly every auto maker posted gains--many in double digits. Sales by the Big Three auto makers were up 8%, Asian auto makers posted a 13% gain, and the Europeans' sales increased 28%.

GM has been offering generous rebates on many models to restore its market share in the wake of the strikes. Ford, Chrysler Corp. and some Asian auto makers also have a variety of rebates and low financing rates to lure customers.

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