Ford Motor Co. announced that U.S. auto industry sales for the month of April were weaker than expected. According to the company, the weak sales were a result of low consumer confidence in responce to a slowing housing market and rising gasoline prices. “This month is terrible,” Ford chief sales analyst George Pipas said in an interview. “We are not even close to where we expected to be in April.” Pipas added industry volume appeared to be down 10 per cent to date before seasonal adjustment, but he expected Ford’s U.S. retail share to hold steady around 13 per cent. For the first three months of the year, U.S. industry-wide auto sales were down 1.2 percent. Earlier, General Motors vice-chairman Bob Lutz said the crisis in the U.S. mortgage market has hurt U.S. auto sales this month. Lutz said he expected the whole automotive sector would feel the impact of the stress on the mortgage market. Weak housing starts have also weighed on sales of high-margin pickup trucks, often bought by construction workers. Ford Motor Co. is in the middle of major restructuring which includes the closing down of 16 plants and cutting about 45,000 jobs.