Chrysler has reported sales in October that were the best in five years.

Chrysler says October car sales best in five years

Chrysler Group LLC says its October car sales were the best in five years.

Chrysler, an affiliate of Italy's Fiat SpA and the first of the major automakers to report, said October sales of 126,185 were up 10 per cent from 114,512 a year ago.

Chrysler said it was the 31st consecutive year-to-year increase in its monthly sales. Four of the company's five brands – Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck and Fiat – saw sales gains in October. Jeep sales, however, fell 5 per cent.

US auto sales are expected to show a rise of 11 per cent for October, led by Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co, which benefited from increased demand for compact cars, as gasoline prices remained high across the country.

The annual sales rate is expected to be 14.9 million vehicles for the second straight month, according to a poll of economists.

"This stability at a higher level is taking the edge off the risk factors for the remainder of 2012 and into 2013, as the US economy wrestles with the European crisis," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive.

Rising home prices, attractive vehicle financing options and Americans' growing need to replace their aging cars also spurred more consumers to showrooms.

Disruptions from Hurricane Sandy, which hit the US East Coast on Monday, are likely to cut about 100,000 vehicle sales, but that demand will come back in November, Jefferies analyst Peter Nesvold said.

Over the last five years, the US auto sector has undergone a wrenching overhaul that led to plant closures, job losses and the government-financed bankruptcy restructurings of General Motors Co and Chrysler in 2009. Ford Motor Co also overhauled its US operations, but did not take a government bailout.

Auto sales are an early indicator each month of US consumer demand.

An 11 per cent jump in October sales would illustrate the continued recovery of the US auto industry, which three years ago was in crisis mode as sales fell to the lowest point in nearly three decades.

The October sales report will be the last before Election Day, marking the end of a contentious US presidential race that has repeatedly thrust GM and Chrysler into the spotlight in televised debates, stump speeches and campaign advertisements.

The sales report also caps a busy week for the US auto industry, which saw third-quarter profit reports from all three Detroit automakers.

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