Auto Sales in August Top Estimates Despite Flat Ford Sales and a Small GM Decline

DETROIT ( TheStreet) -- Five years into a slow economic recovery, auto sales continue to show surprising strength, with Chrysler and Ford ( F)  estimating that industry sales for August will gain 3%, despite widespread projections that sales would be flat compared with a year earlier.

Chrysler also said the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate for August is expected to reach 17.4 million units, the year's highest level, while Kelley Blue Book said new car transaction prices rose nearly 3%. GM (GM) said on Wednesday that full-year light vehicle sales are expected to be near the high-end of its January outlook, which was for sales of 16 million to 16.5 million.

Read More: It's No Coincidence, Stocks and Auto Sales Are Both Frothy

In August, Ford sales rose 0.4% to 222,174, while GM sales were down 1%. August had one fewer selling day in 2014 than it did in 2013. GM said its sales rose 2% when adjusted for selling days. In 2013, August was GM's best sales month of the year.  Chrysler's sales in August rose 20% and Nissan's  (NSANY) sales gained 11.5%.

Ford sales totaled 221,174 vehicles, the company's best August in eight years. "Both Fusion and Escape set records in August, each continuing on a strong pace toward 2014 being a best-ever sales year," said John Felice, Ford vice president, U.S. marketing, sales and service, in a prepared statement.

Sales of the F-Series pickup truck, the best-selling U.S. vehicle, fell 4.2% to 68,109 units. Fusion sales rose 19% to 29,452. Escape sales rose 9% to 28,996.

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