(Reuters) - Chrysler Group LLC posted a 13-percent rise in vehicle sales for last month, a performance that represented the smallest U.S. automaker's best July in five years but fell short of some analyst estimates.
The company, which is majority-owned by Italian automaker Fiat SpA, sold 126,089 cars and trucks in July. Barclays Capital had expected Chrysler to sell 129,453 vehicles, while RBC Capital Markets had projected 127,889.
Auto sales are an early indicator each month of U.S. consumer demand. According to a Reuters survey of 41 economists, the annual auto sales pace is expected to be 14 million this month, roughly on par with the 14.1 sales rate seen in June.
So far this year, pent-up demand and sweeter financing deals have drawn more car shoppers into showrooms, executives and analysts said. But weak consumer confidence and still-high unemployment remain obstacles for the industry this year.
(Reporting By Deepa Seetharaman; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)
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