UPDATE 5-Healthy U.S. April auto sales fail to offset growth fears

Tue May 3, 2016 6:00pm EDT
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(Adds final sales figures, Canada data, closing share prices)

By Bernie Woodall

DETROIT May 3 (Reuters) - Detroit automakers reported another month of strong demand from U.S. consumers for trucks and sport utility vehicles on Tuesday, but their shares dropped as analysts focused on signs the world's second-largest auto market has little room to grow.

U.S. light vehicle sales in April totaled 1.51 million, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier, for a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 17.42 million vehicles, according to Autodata Corp. WardsAuto said annualized sales were 17.32 million vehicles.

U.S. auto sales in 2015 hit a record 17.4 million vehicles.

Wall Street analysts say the U.S. auto market is close to a cyclical peak and that more production cuts, which hurt profit, could be needed to keep inventories of vehicles from ballooning later in the year.

"We continue to believe sales growth will be muted this year," Joseph Spak of RBC Capital said in a note to investors.

Inventory data issued early on Tuesday pointed to some possible "risk to North American production over the coming months," Spak added.

The sluggish pace of U.S. economic growth adds to concerns that the auto industry recovery could run out of fuel.   Continued...