January 3, 2019 / 9:51 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada auto sales fall 8 pct in December

(Adds sales data for GM, Toyota, U.S. auto sales)

Jan 2 (Reuters) - Canada’s auto sales declined 8 percent in December from a year earlier, marking the ninth straight month of sales drop, according to industry data released on Thursday.

Overall sales for December fell to 114,289 units, according to a report here by Global Automakers Canada (GAC).

Auto sales in Canada has been on the decline as buyers continue to feel the pinch from rising interest rates. However, the Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged in December last year, after raising interest rate five times since July 2017 to tackle inflation.

“Given all of the political and economic turbulence – combined with interest rate increases – it is difficult to classify the 2018 as disappointing from a sales perspective,” said David Adams, President of Global Automakers of Canada in a statement.

Separately, research firm DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said passenger car sales and light truck sales in Canada declined by 12.1 percent and 6.5 percent respectively.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported a 32 percent drop in total December auto sales in Canada.

Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp reported a 8.9 percent jump in the same period with 14,153 units sold, according to the GAC report.

The country’s biggest carmaker General Motors Co reported total sales of 13,855 vehicles, including 10,691 retail and 3,164 fleet deliveries, in December.

Earlier in the day, top U.S. automakers including General Motors, Ford Motor Co reported a dip in auto sales for the month of December, however remained bullish on pickups in 2019 sales. [reut.rs/2Rttycd ] (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel and Shailesh Kuber)

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