General Motors Co on Tuesday posted a 7.6 percent sales gain in July on stronger demand for its flagship Chevrolet brand and new cars including the Cruze compact.

GM said U.S. sales rose to 214,915 new cars and light trucks, within the range of analysts' expectations and up from 199,692 vehicles last year.

The rest of the automakers are scheduled to release their U.S. sales results for July later on Tuesday. Thirty-nine economists polled by Reuters were expecting an annual sales rate in July of 11.8 million vehicles.

That pace would still trail the 13 million-plus rate from earlier this year, but many industry executives said it would mark the beginning of a recovery from a bottom in June, when the rate was 11.45 million.

Monthly car sales figures are among the first snapshots of consumer demand each month. Consumer spending habits are of particular interest after last week's tepid increase in U.S. second-quarter output and sharp downward revision for the first quarter.

The auto industry also is coming off May and June sales that fell short of economists' predictions, raising concerns about the recovery. Analysts said higher pricing by many automakers backfired at a time of penny-pinching by consumers.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman an Kevin Krolicki in Detroit, editing by Matthew Lewis)