Auto sales expected to top 17 million vehicles for fifth consecutive year

 For the fifth year in a row, U.S. auto sales are expected to top 17 million vehicles.

Purchases of new vehicles in 2019 are expected to decline slightly from the previous year, but not to the extent analysts initially thought.

A strong economy led to solid consumer confidence, and in turn, a robust year for automakers and dealers. They were able to beat sales forecasts during a tumultuous year marked by labor negotiations that led to a 40-day strike against General Motors Co., and by tough trade talks leading to uncertainty in the economy and the industry.