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Detroit automakers top expectations for US June sales

General Motors bucked Wall Street's low expectations and negative publicity over a flood of safety recalls, reporting a modest rise in U.S. sales in June.

Chrysler and Nissan also reported year-to-year increases on Tuesday. They, along with Ford, topped analysts' expectations.

The early sales reports indicate the industry overall had a better-than-anticipated showing in June, even though there were two fewer selling days than a year ago.

GM delivered 267,461 new cars in June, up 1 percent from a year earlier. Analysts had expected 247,767.

Read More Auto sales close to hitting the brakes

In the first six months, the top U.S. automaker has issued 54 safety recalls totaling a record 29 million vehicles. GM has linked at least 16 deaths to several of the problems leading to the recalls.

Ford sales fell 5 percent to 222,064, but the company still beat the analysts' forecast of 217,007.

Chrysler had a 9 percent gain to 171,086, while Nissan was up 5 percent at 109,643.

June sales for the U.S. market overall were expected to fall about 3 percent.

Read MoreGM announces 6 new recalls, 7.6 million cars in the US

A poll of analysts by Thomson Reuters shows U.S. sales expectations of 16.4 million vehicles for the month on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis.

Investors and analysts will be watching to see how automakers are handling incentives, which cut prices for consumers but also dent profit margins on vehicle sales.

Early data from research firm J.D. Power showed incentives across the industry averaged $2,897 per vehicle. Ford was the leader, with average per-vehicle discounts of $3,699, followed by GM at $3,640.

Shares of GM were up 1.3 percent at $36.79 in morning trading, while Ford was unchanged at $17.24.

Read MoreGM to offer at least $1M to families for each ignition death

—By Reuters

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