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Chrysler Says Sales Rise 10 Percent

At GM, sales rose to nearly 196,000 vehicles for the month, led by the Cruze and Sonic small cars. Cruze sales were up 34 percent, while Sonic sales rose 43 percent.

Toyota said its sales rose to 155,000 vehicles. It will release more data later in the day.

Industry analysts were expecting an annual sales rate in October of 14.7 million to 14.9 million, but that was before Sandy hit Monday.

The storm could cut sales by 1 percent to 3 percent, or about 20,000 vehicles, said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm. Schuster said any lost sales would likely shift to November, boosting totals for that month.

But Chrysler U.S. sales chief Reid Bigland, who doubles as head of the Dodge brand, said in a statement that the company posted its 31st straight month of year-over-year sales growth even with the storm. Chrysler has revamped nearly all of its models in an effort to boost sales.

LMC predicts that all automakers sold about 1.1 million vehicles during October, up 11 percent from a year ago, as the industry continues its slow recovery from the Great Recession.

But Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Nesvold told investors in a note that Sandy could cost the industry sales of 100,000 cars and trucks in October. He still predicted an annual rate for the month of 14.7 million to 14.9 million, and he raised his full-year forecast to 14.4 million from 14.2 million based on the strong October. Nesvold also said the lost sales should return in November.

U.S. sales have been recovering from a 30-year low of 10.4 million in 2009 when credit froze, unemployment leaped and few people were buying cars. But the numbers are still far short of the recent peak of around 17 million in 2005. Analysts predict the country could reach 15 million in sales next year, which they consider about normal.

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