CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Demand for big pickup trucks fuels June U.S. auto sales

Tue Jul 2, 2013 11:07am EDT
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(Corrects first bullet point to "best monthly sales rate" instead of "best June")

* Could be U.S. auto industry's best monthly sales rate since late 2007

* GM, Ford, Nissan results stronger than expected

* Consumers believe economic expansion will continue -GM economist

* GM shares up 1.7 pct, Ford up 2 pct

By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall

DETROIT, July 2 (Reuters) - Sales of big, brawny pickup trucks fueled strong demand for new vehicles in the United States in June, driving the industry toward its strongest month since before the recession that drove General Motors Co and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

GM and Ford Motor Co posted stronger-than-expected sales, and Chrysler Group's sales met analysts' expectations as the improving U.S. housing market led to surging demand for full-size pickups at all the U.S. automakers. Toyota Motor Corp also reported surprisingly strong U.S. sales.

"America's families are better off than they were at the beginning of the year and they believe - with good justification - that the economic expansion is going to continue," GM Chief Economist Mustafa Mohatarem said in a statement.   Continued...