U.S. Markets close in 2 hrs 28 mins

Fiat Chrysler February U.S. sales rise 12 percent

DETROIT, March 1 (Reuters) - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles February U.S. auto sales rose 12 percent as the carmaker again showed strong Jeep SUV and Ram truck sales.

Sales for Jeep's six SUV models rose 23 percent, the company said on Tuesday, matching the gain for Ram pickup trucks. Fiat Chrysler posted its best February sales in a decade and its 71st consecutive year-over-year monthly gain.

Major automakers are expected by economists and industry analysts to post a sales rise of 7 percent to 9 percent from a year ago.

Forty-eight economists polled by Thomson Reuters, on average, expected February U.S. sales to be 17.63 million vehicles. Last year, U.S. auto sales hit a record 17.4 million vehicles.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)