ECONOMY

US demand for trucks, SUVs helps February sales

Strong demand for pickups and SUVs helped brighten February for the U.S. auto industry.

Overall sales of new vehicles were expected to fall slightly from last February as automakers cut back on deliveries to rental-car companies and other fleets. Industry forecasting firm ALG said predicted sales would fall 1.4 percent to 1.3 million.

But SUV and truck sales were surprisingly strong. Sales of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup jumped 17 percent from last February to more than 50,500 trucks, while Ford sold nearly 69,000 SUVs — a February record.

General Motors and Nissan both saw 4 percent gains over last February. Ford's sales dropped 4 percent, partly due to a 24 percent decline in car sales.

Other automakers report sales later Wednesday.