UPDATE 3-Trucks lift U.S. auto sales to best month since 2007

Tue Jul 2, 2013 5:48pm EDT
 
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* Sales finish up 9 pct at 1.4 mln vehicles in June

* Industry rides coattails of improving U.S. housing market

* GM, Ford, Toyota results blow past expectations

* Consumers believe economic expansion will continue -GM exec

* Ford stock up 2.8 pct, GM shares up 0.3 pct (Adds final sales figures, industry details, closing stock prices)

By Ben Klayman and Bernie Woodall

DETROIT, July 2 (Reuters) - Detroit's automakers gained market share in the first half of the year for the first time in two decades, as demand in June for brawny pickup trucks drove the U.S. auto industry to its strongest month since late 2007.

General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co posted stronger-than-expected sales on Tuesday, and Chrysler Group's results met analysts' high expectations as the improving U.S. housing market led to surging demand for such full-size pickups as the Chevrolet Silverado and the Ford F-150. Japan's Toyota Motor Corp also reported surprisingly strong June U.S. sales.

"American families are better off than they were at the beginning of the year," Kurt McNeil, head of U.S. sales for GM, said on a conference call. "They also believe that the economic expansion is going to continue, so they're buying more homes, and more cars and trucks."   Continued...