Detroit — Steadily rising US vehicle sales helped fuel the economic recovery, but sales have shifted into lower gear even as President Donald Trump counts on car makers to provide a lift to his economic plans. After adding thousands of jobs since the financial crisis to meet rising demand for new vehicles, US car makers have begun to lay off workers for months at a time. Trump has touted the automotive sector, which he previously lambasted for moving production to Mexico, as proof of his programme’s success. "We’re going to have expansion," Trump told reporters. "We already do. You look at what’s happening with Ford and with General Motors in Michigan and Ohio. You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced in so many different fields. That’s what I’m proud of, and that’s what we want to focus our energy on." But the data are gloomier. Following seven years of steady growth, leading to sales records in 2015 and 2016, deliveries of new vehicles in the US dropped 4...

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