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) -- At its midpoint, April is shaping up as a strong month for auto sales.

"April sales look strong so far," said analyst Ray Zhou, in a prepared statement. He said the seasonally-adjusted annual sales rate, at the end of the month, should be around 13.3 million light vehicles, slightly ahead of the 13.1 million light vehicles at the end of March.

This month, Zhou said,


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retail market share is up about 8%, while


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share is stable, based on the first nine sales days of the month. During the first quarter, GM had a retail share of 17.1% while Ford's share was 14.2%.


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share is up about 6%, based on the first nine sales days, while


is down about 6%, Zhou said.

Edmunds anticipates that sales will slow going forward, due to supply constraints forced by parts shortages resulting from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but then will recover.

"We're still optimistic that any supply constraints will only slide summer sales to later in the year when automaker production is expected to be back to normal," said' economist Lacey Plache.

Edmunds is forecasting 2011 sales of 12.9 million vehicles, but the number could fall if the parts shortages continue to diminish sales, Plache said.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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Ted Reed

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