Top US automakers report higher auto sales in June

(Reuters) - Top U.S. automakers reported an increase in U.S. auto sales in June, as consumers continued to lap up sport utility vehicles in larger numbers.

The sales reports come amid escalating tensions between the United States and its trade partners, which led to a fall in U.S consumer confidence in June, and weighed on purchase plans for big-ticket items such as automobiles.

Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, said it sold 230,635 vehicles in June, compared with 227,979, a year earlier.

Sales of Ford brand SUVs grew 8.1 percent to 77,453 vehicles, and were a record for the month, the company said.

Toyota Motor's June U.S. sales rose 3.6 percent to 209,602 vehicles, led by RAV4 and Highlander sport utility vehicles.

The Japanese automaker said its Toyota and Lexus divisions posted best-ever light truck sales for June in the United States.

Fiat Chrysler said its monthly U.S. sales rose about 8 percent to 202,264 vehicles, led by the Jeep brand, which notched its best month of June with a 19 percent increase.

A poll of economists by Reuters showed expectations of a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17.0 million vehicles for the U.S. auto industry in June.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker General Motors <GM.N>, which stopped reporting monthly numbers beginning April, will report its quarterly numbers shortly.

(Reporting by Ankit Ajmera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)