General Motors Climbs on Rising Quarterly Sales

General Motors says demand is increasing due to the reopening economy and stimulus checks.
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Shares of General Motors  (GM) - Get Report were rising slightly Thursday after the car maker reported that first-quarter U.S. sales rose 4% year-over-year as vehicle demand increased sharply. 

GM sold 642,250 vehicles in the quarter in the U.S., with retail deliveries climbing 19% and fleet sales falling 35%. 

"Over the last year, our dealers, supply chain and manufacturing teams have gone above and beyond to satisfy customers as demand for GM products rose sharply," GM executive vice president Steve Carlisle said.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence and spending will continue to increase throughout the year thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine, stimulus checks and the progressive reopening of the economy, according to GM's chief economist Elaine Buckberg. 

"Auto demand should remain strong throughout the year," Buckberg said. 

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GM has been forced into production cuts in recent weeks due to a worldwide semiconductor chip shortage that has weighed on the entire auto sector.

The Detroit automaker said its Wentzville, Mo., assembly plant would be idled for the weeks beginning March 29 and April 5 due to the chip shortage. The company will also extend for two weeks the downtime at its Lansing, Mich., plant, which has been idled since March 15.

GM also said its San Luis Potosi, Mexico, assembly plant, which has been idled since Feb. 8, will resume production starting with two shifts beginning the week of April 5. 

GM shares were trading 0.5% higher Thursday afternoon at last check.