Not since before the recession have Americans been buying new cars and trucks at the pace that was seen last month.

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Ford says its sales rose 14 percent, while Chrysler's rose 8 percent and GM saw a gain of 6.5 percent. The automakers were boosted by continuing demand for big pickups.

Japanese automakers reported solid gains as well. Nissan's sales jumped 13 percent, while Toyota's were up 10 percent. But Volkswagen's sales dropped 3 percent. That's the third straight monthly decline for the German car company.

Analysts say they don't see much that could slow the sales momentum of the first six months of the year. Factors that helped spur sales -- including low interest rates, wider credit availability and rising home construction -- are likely to remain in place. And demand hasn't been dampened so far by hiccups in the stock market, or by higher taxes and fluctuating gas prices.


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