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CHICAGO (AFP) – Ford and Chrysler posted solid gains in June US auto sales Tuesday as analysts forecast a strong close to the first half of the year and more growth in the months to come.

Ford’s sales rose 13 percent to 235,643 vehicles in its best June performance since 2006. Sales for the first half of the year were also up 13 percent at 1.3 million vehicles.

“In June, we continued to see strong demand across the entire lineup,” said Ken Czubay, Ford’s sales chief.

“We’re particularly encouraged by strong retail share gains, especially in coastal markets, where the combination of great design and fuel economy is resonating with customers — including many buying a Ford for the first time.”

Chrysler’s sales rose eight percent to 156,686 vehicles in the company’s best June in six years. Sales for the first half of the year were up nine percent at 908,332.

“The fundamentals for continued industry gains in new vehicle sales remain intact,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s sales chief, said in a statement.

Automotive website Edmunds.com forecast that total industry sales will rise 6.3 percent in June and come in at an adjusted, annualized rate of 15.5 million vehicles once all automakers have reported.

“Within the last month we saw a slowing stock market and a stalled unemployment recovery, but the automotive market continues to shine through it all,” said Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell.

“The first half of 2013 was every bit as strong as the auto industry could expect at the beginning of the year, and there’s no reason why the next six months can’t maintain the same momentum.”

Kelley Blue Book‘s forecast was in line with Edmunds as it predicted the June sales pace would be the industry’s strongest monthly performance since November 2012.

“We’ve had a strong first half of the year with new-car sales up nearly 7 percent compared to the first half of last year,” said Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez.

“The industry continues to benefit from modest improvements in housing, unemployment and consumer confidence.”

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