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Auto sales rose in February, but not as much as expected

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Freezing temperatures and drifts of snow likely took a small bite out of U.S. auto sales last month, but most automakers are still reporting gains thanks to the strong economy.

General Motors' sales rose 4.2% over last February, while Chrysler's sales were up 5.6%. Nissan's sales were up 2.7%. However, those gains were smaller than analysts had predicted.

Ford's U.S. sales were down 1.9%, as dealers lacked the inventory to meet demand for the new F-150 pickup truck.
Falling unemployment, low interest rates and new versions of big sellers like the Jeep Cherokee - which saw sales jump 19 percent in February - drove buyers to dealerships in many cities.

But bad weather in the mid-South and on the East Coast hurt sales. One Volkswagen dealer in Massachusetts says it had almost no customers for a two-week period at the start of the month.

Chris Hobson is an auto industry analyst with IHS Global Insight. He is not concerned by February’s sales pace.

“I think it’s just a one off month,” says Hobson, “I think we ought to just take the February results and think that upcoming March sales will probably be on the higher side since February was on the lower side.”