DETROIT -- General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan all reported double-digit sales gains last month, clear signs that U.S. auto sales will remain strong into the second half of the year.
Toyota led the way with nearly a 16.5 percent increase, followed closely by General Motors at 16 percent. Chrysler, Nissan and Ford all reported 11 percent gains. It was Chrysler's best July since 2006.
Pickup trucks led the way, a boon for the Detroit carmakers. But consumers also favored SUVs and smaller cars.
All major automakers report U.S. sales Thursday. Most industry analysts expect July sales to rise around 15 percent from a year ago. A performance that strong will signal that the industry's momentum can carry through December.
``We're almost at a pre-recession pace that looks like it may have the momentum that will carry it through the second half of the year and beyond,'' said Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.
The industry's numbers for July come a day after the U.S. government reported stronger than expected growth for the April-June quarter.
``Solid industry sales in July point to a stable market indicating a recovering economy,'' Bill Fay, Toyota' group vice president, said in a statement.
GM said its July U.S. sales rose to just over 234,000 vehicles last month, largely due to gains in full-size pickup trucks. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups combined rose 46 percent to almost 99,000. The trucks accounted for 42 percent of GM' sales. But passenger car sales also were up, 24 percent over a year ago.