While the outlook for the US in the fourth quarter is not rosy, strength in markets outside North America helped General Motors post a 4% gain in third-quarter global sales to 2.38m vehicles.

In the first nine months of the year, GM sold 7.06 million vehicles globally, up 2.4% from 2006, a news agency said.

Dow Jones noted that Toyota hasn't released third-quarter global sales figures yet - it outsold GM globally in the first half of the year, but GM regained superiority on a quarterly basis in the second period.

The news agency said emerging markets were strong for GM, as third-quarter sales in the Asia-Pacific region were up 15.6% to 327,522 and the Latin America, Africa and Middle East regions rose 21.8% to 329,398.

European sales were up 14.6% to 523,590 in the third quarter.

Overall, sales outside the US accounted for 56% of GM's global sales, growing at nearly 14% and outpacing what GM said was the industry average growth rate of 10%, according to the Dow Jones report.

Despite softness in the US GM sales analyst Paul Ballew told Dow Jones a strong global economy is providing a good base for global sales growth and he expects that trend to continue into next year.

But, the news agency noted, the US remains troublesome as GM's North American sales were down 6.1% to 1.2m in the third quarter and he expects growth to be "subdued" in the US throughout the fourth quarter and into 2008.

Ballew also told Dow Jones he expects 2008 US industry sales to be roughly flat with 2007.