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General Motors Gains After Solid Q4 Sales; Sees Retail Demand Returning to Pre-Pandemic Levels

GM said its U.S. sales rose 4.8% from last year to 771,323 units, with chief economist Elain Buckberg forecasting an 'inflection point' for the U.S. economy in the coming months.

General Motors GM shares traded higher Tuesday after the automaker posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter U.S. sales and said retail demand is returning to pre-pandemic levels.

GM said it sold 771,323 cars over the three months ending in December, a 5% increase from the same period last year. The pace leaves the carmaker with a year-end inventory of 410,875 units, down more than a third from its 2019 tally.

GM said its GMC Sierra lead the fourth quarter gains, with total deliveries up 14%. Chevrolet deliveries were up 12, GM said, "driven by the success of the all-new Trailblazer and sharply higher sales for almost every other model, including the Corvette." Cadillac, GM said, had its best quarter since 2016.

"We look forward to an inflection point for the U.S. economy in spring," said GM chief economist Elaine Buckberg. "Widening vaccination rates and warmer weather should enable consumers and businesses to return to a more normal range of activities, lifting the job market, consumer sentiment and auto demand."

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GM shares were marked 1.6% higher in early Tuesday trading to change hands at $41.22 each, a move that extends the stock's six-month gain to around 60.2%.

GM has seen a solid recovery over the past six months, with third quarter earnings rising 64.5% to $1.38 per share on sales of $35.5 billion, with CEO Mary Barra telling investors the group is "well positioned to meet rising customer demand, accelerate our transformation and deliver our vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.”