February 1, 2019 / 7:40 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada auto sales drop 7.3 pct in January, Toyota sales rise 14 pct

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

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Canada's auto sales fell 7.3 percent in January to 108,774 units from a year earlier, industry data showed, marking the tenth straight month of sales drop.

According to a report here by Global Automakers Canada (GAC) released on Friday, passenger car sales fell 13.7 percent, while truck sales were down 4.9 percent.

Auto sales in Canada has been steadily falling as rising interest rates have dampened appetite of buyers. However, the Bank of Canada kept interest rates steady in January while signaling that more increases would be necessary.

Canada's central bank had raised interest rate five times since July 2017 to tackle rising inflation.

"We've known for some time the sales are slowing down, last year was evidence of that, but the sky is not falling - January's sales were still above the average for the last 5 years of sales for January," David Adams, president of GAC, said in a statement.

In January, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV reported about a 20 percent fall in total auto sales, while Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp's Canadian division reported a 14.1 percent rise in sales to 14,245 units.

Fiat, which is among the top four carmakers in Canada, sold 14,191 vehicles in the month, where demand for its Ram brand was offset by drop in sales in Jeep and Dodge brands.

Earlier in the day, Toyota, the No.3 automaker in the United States, reported a 6.6 percent fall in U.S. vehicle sales, hurt by lower demand for its Camry and Prius cars.

However, its smaller rival in the United States, Fiat, reported a 2 percent rise in U.S. auto sales and said it expects strong sales in 2019.

General Motors Co, the country's biggest carmaker, and Ford Motor Co have stopped reporting monthly sales numbers.

Reporting by Shanti S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Arun Koyyur

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