(Adds industry figures, comment from president of Global Automakers of Canada)
By Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Nikhil Subba
Aug 1 (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales rose 4.9 percent in July as the industry benefited from strong economic growth, even as U.S. sales fell for a fifth consecutive month, according to data released on Tuesday.
Global Automakers of Canada President David Adams said he expects the growth to continue, which should enable Canada to post record full-year auto sales in 2017.
“The Canadian market is trended upwards,” he said. “Part of it has been due to Canada’s brightening economic fortunes.”
Auto sales typically track macro indicators such as employment and economic growth. Canada’s economy grew by 0.6 percent in May from a month earlier, Statistics Canada said last month, exceeding economists’ forecasts for 0.2 percent growth.
July’s sales of 181,834 vehicles pushed the year-to-date total to 1.22 million, a gain of 5 percent from a year earlier, according to DesRosiers automotive report.
U.S. auto sales declined in July as sales of large pickups fell 4 percent and large sport utility vehicles tumbled 20 percent.
In Canada, light truck sales rose 8.3 percent to 123,603 during July. That helped offset a 1.7 percent decline in passenger car sales, which fell to 58,231, according to DesRosiers.
Light truck sales often rise when the economy is growing as they are used to transport industrial and manufactured goods.
General Motors Co said Canadian sales rose 22 percent to 25,852 vehicles. It has sold 131,000 units in the year to date in Canada, up 16 percent over the same period last year.
Ford Motor Co said it sold 27,669 vehicles in Canada in July, down 7.1 percent from a year earlier.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles , maker of Dodge and Chrysler vehicles, posted a 3 percent drop in Canadian sales. They had declined 7 percent in June. (Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee and Nikhil Subba in Bangalore; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Jim Finkle and James Dalgleish)