) --


(F) - Get Report

said November sales rose 6%, while


(GM) - Get Report

reported a gain of 3.4% as the auto industry remained a bright spot for the economy.

Shares in Ford were rising in early trading Monday, up 14 cents to $11.59 shortly after the open. GM shares were flat. In New York, Ford CEO Alan Mulally was scheduled to appear at Lincoln Center to discuss Lincoln marketing as Ford seeks to reinvent the 90-year-old luxury brand. Meanwhile,


reported its best November sales since 2007, with sales up 14%, while


(TM) - Get Report

said its sales rose 17% to 161, 695.

On the Ford sales call, analyst Erich Merkle said Hurricane Sandy created industry demand for 20,000 to 30,000 vehicles in November, including sales delayed from October as well as replacement vehicles.. "We expect the replacement demand to lead in December and it will take us through the first half," he said.

Ford said November sales totaled 177,673, with retail sales up 12%. Small-car sales rose 76% to 26,848, as Focus sales rose 56% to 18,312. Overall, car sales rose 15%, trucks rose 4% and utilities rose 2%. Sales of the F-Series pickup, the best-selling U.S. vehicle, rose 18% to 56,299.

However, Fusion sales declined 24% to 15,125, as Ford introduced a new model. Lincoln sales fell 9.1% to 5,732. Escape sales fell 3.9% to 20,970, but Edge sales rose 4.7% to 10,142.

GM reported its highest November sales in the United States since 2007, with deliveries of 186,505 vehicles. Retail sales were flat and fleet sales rose 16%. Passenger-car sales rose 19%, crossover sales rose 9% and truck sales fell 11%. GM said it declined to match "unexpectedly high competitive incentive activity" in the pickup truck sector.

Buick sales rose 22% to 13,289 while Cadillac sales rose 30% to 14,517. Chevrolet sales were flat at 128,867.

Analysts were looking for a low double-digit sales increase for November. forecast a 13% gain while predicted an 11% gain and a seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate of 15 million, up from 14.3 million in October. Ford's Merkle said industry November sales were up about 10%. NoMerSo far, frenzy over the so-called fiscal cliff doesn't seem to have impacted auto sales, while Hurricane Sandy has stimulated demand for replacement vehicles.

"The East Coast's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Sandy helped drive the November SAAR materially higher, but it benefited our competitors more than GM, since they rely on the region for more of their sales," said Kurt McNeil, GM vice president of U.S. sales, in a prepared statement.

At Chrysler, four brands -- Chrysler, Dodge, Ram Truck, and Fiat -- all showed increases, ranging from 1% at Chrysler to 123% at Fiat. But Jeep brand sales fell 3%, reflecting the end of Jeep Liberty production in August and a lingering impact from Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast, a strong Jeep market.

Sales of the Ram pickup, the best-selling Chrysler vehicle, rose 23% to 24,337. At Dodge, Avenger sales rose 26% to 7,132 while the new Dart sold 4,489 units. But sales of the Chrysler 200 fell 9% to 7,371.

"Even with all the talk of a looming fiscal cliff, Chrysler Group is well positioned for a strong sales finish to the year," said Reid Bigland, CEO of Dodge Brand and head of U.S. sales, in a prepared statement. "We are expecting a strong December as the industry continues to recover from the East Coast hurricane and consumers continue to respond to our popular year-end Big Finish event."

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

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Ted Reed