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Chrysler says its U.S. auto sales rose 20 percent

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[August 01, 2014]  DETROIT (Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC on Friday said its U.S. July auto sales rose 20 percent and that it expected the industry to show an 8 percent increase for the month.

Auto consultancy Truecar had expected a rise of 23 percent for Chrysler and a 10 percent increase for the industry.

On Friday in Turin, Italy, where Chrysler parent Fiat is headquartered for now, shareholders are expected to approve a merger that will create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, to be registered in the Netherlands.

Fiat has relied on the resurgence of Chrysler in North America since the No. 3 U.S. automaker's 2009 government-sponsored bankruptcy as Europe's auto sales flagged.

Gains in U.S. auto sales have been stronger than the overall economy since the recession. However, the monthly figures also provide an early glimpse into consumer spending.

Auto sales dropped to a low of 10.4 million vehicles in 2009 and have risen steadily since, reaching 15.6 million vehicles last year. They are on a pace for about 16.4 million this year, in part because of easier credit and loans of up to 84 months.

Chrysler said last month was its best July since 2005, with sales of 167,667 vehicles.

Jeep, the SUV brand that Fiat Chrysler sees as a linchpin in its global growth, showed sales up 41 percent, while Ram truck sales rose 14 percent. Chrysler brand sales increased 17 percent, and Dodge brand sales were up 3 percent.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Mark Potter and Lisa Von Ahn)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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