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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Toyota Q1 Earnings Jump 32%

TOKYO -- Toyota Motor reported a 32 percent rise in quarterly profit on Friday, continuing a streak of record earnings as the Japanese car company seeks to widen its lead over General Motors as the world's largest automaker.

Toyota also said Friday that it expected its sales in the all-important North American market to remain as strong as they were last year, despite a sales drop last month and broader concerns of a possible economic slowdown in the United States.

Toyota said sales were brisk during the April to June quarter in the United States, where high pump prices raised the popularity of high-mileage vehicles like its Prius, a gasoline-electric hybrid, and the RAV4, a small sport utility vehicle. Toyota reported sales gains in every region of the world except its home market of Japan, where the auto market is saturated.

Analysts said this showed Toyota could be building a formidable lead in global markets over GM, which has recently relied on strong overseas sales to offset its weakness in the United States. Toyota is also trying harder to sell cars in newer markets like China and Russia to reduce its current dependence on the United States, the world's largest auto market, analysts said.

"Toyota will be No. 1 in sales this year, without a doubt," said Shinji Kitayama, a senior analyst at Shinko Securities in Tokyo. "One of Toyota's strong points is that its cars sell well all over the world."