Big Three Automakers All Top Sales Estimates for April

General Motors, Ford Motor and DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group all reported April sales that beat expectations, defying predictions that automobile sales would be sharply lower.

General Motors' adjusted U.S. April sales slipped 2.2% as a weak housing market and high gas prices hurt consumer demand, but the decline was narrower than analysts' estimates of a 3.4% drop.

GM saw adjusted car sales go down 2.6%, while truck sales were 2% lower.

The results were adjusted for two fewer selling days in April 2007.

GM said it sold 311,687 vehicles in the month.

The company, which was overtaken by Japanese rival Toyota Motor as the world's largest automaker in the first quarter, cut its second-quarter North American production forecast to 1.15 million vehicles, down 15,000 units from last month's estimate.

Of that total, GM plans to make 403,000 cars and 742,000 trucks in the second quarter.

Ford, Chrysler Top Estimates

Ford said U.S. April vehicle sales fell 13% from a year earlier, hurt by a weak housing market and a cutback in fleet sales.

Ford sales fell 5.7%, narrower than Wall Street estimates, which were for a decline of 8.8%. Adjusted car sales fell 17.2%, while truck sales rose 2%.

The No. 2 U.S. automaker said it sold 228,623 vehicles in the United States last month, compared with 262,722 vehicles a year earlier.

Results for Ford include its import brands and some medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Adjusted for the number of selling days, DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group sales rose 10%. Sales of trucks jumped 20.5%, offsetting a 13.5% decline in car sales. Analysts expected Chrysler Group to report a marginal sales decline of 0.3% on an adjusted basis.

Chrysler Group's April sales were driven by strong uptake of its Jeep brand vehicles, the company said.

Chrysler sold 193,104 vehicles in the United States last month, compared with 190,095 a year earlier.

Most analysts have predicted that overall U.S. auto sales will be down, due largely to the slumping housing market, rising consumer debt and no pent-up demand for vehicles.

Gasoline prices also are at or near $3 per gallon, and many consumers were expected to delay auto purchases until they find out what will happen to gas prices during the upcoming summer driving season.