February 1, 2018 / 3:01 PM / 2 years ago

Canada auto sales rise 5.7 percent in January

The General Motors CAMI car assembly plant, where the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox are built, is seen in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Geoff Robins

(Reuters) - Canadian auto sales rose 5.7 percent in January following two months of declines, with buyers choosing pickup trucks and SUVs over smaller passenger cars.

The Global Automakers of Canada (GAC) said on Thursday 117,281 vehicles were sold in the first month of 2018, nearly three-quarters of which were light trucks.

While there were warnings of lower levels of consumer confidence and uncertainties around the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, auto sales “bucked that trend in a big way,” GAC President David Adams said.

“The gains reflect a strong labor market, which advanced last year at the fastest pace of the past decade,” Scotiabank analyst Carlos Gomes said, noting that job growth overpowers other economic variables for auto sales.

General Motors Co said its January sales rose 15 percent year-over-year, but rivals Fiat Chrysler, and Ford Motor Co saw sales fall.

Detroit-based GM said it sold 16,791 vehicles in Canada last month, with Chevrolet making up over 60 percent of total sales. (bit.ly/2Fy9GuY)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said total sales fell 4 percent to 17,761 vehicles in January, with only its Jeep brand seeing growth.

Ford sold 16,465 vehicles, a 4.5 percent drop, even as its F-Series was the best selling vehicle across Canada.

Reporting by Taenaz Shakir and Karan Nagarkatti in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sai Sachin Ravikumar

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