UPDATE 4-U.S. auto sales growth slows in April; Detroit gains ground

Wed May 1, 2013 6:07pm EDT
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* Slowest monthly growth pace for U.S. auto sales since October

* Demand for pickup trucks, SUVs helps Detroit automakers

* Sales slightly below expectations but still strong -analyst

* GM, Chrysler's April U.S. sales rise by 11 pct

* Toyota sales slip 1.1 percent

By Bernie Woodall and Deepa Seetharaman

DETROIT, May 1 (Reuters) - U.S. April auto sales slowed to their lowest monthly pace since last autumn as foreign automakers reported lackluster results, and sales to commercial customers slid.

For the first time since last October, U.S. monthly auto sales dipped below 15 million vehicles on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate. Research firm Autodata Corp reported industrywide U.S. sales came in at a rate of 14.92 million vehicles in April.

"Sales are coming in a little bit below expectations, but still quite strong," said Alec Gutierrez, analyst with Kelley Blue Book. "As we've seen all year and the last couple of years, it looks as though the auto industry remains one of the few bright spots in the broader economy ... in addition to housing."   Continued...