By Mike Colias

General Motors Co. said pretax earnings this year should beat the record bottom line the auto maker expects to post for 2016, and its board approved a $5 billion share-repurchase plan based on the "strong outlook."

GM said Tuesday the bright forecast is based on continued strength in North America -- buoyed by strong sales of pickup trucks, SUVs and crossover wagons -- resilient vehicle demand in China and wringing out additional costs from improved logistics and other moves.

GM forecasts 2017 pretax operating earnings per share, adjusted for any special items, of $6 to $6.50, up from a forecast $5.50 to $6 that it expects to post when the company reports earnings on Feb. 7. The 2016 result should come in at the "high-end" of that range, Chief Executive Mary Barra told reporters ahead of an investor conference in Detroit.

The nation's largest auto maker is benefiting from strong U.S. demand for pickup trucks and SUVs -- its biggest moneymakers -- stoked by low gasoline prices and interest rates. It has also leveraged its strength in China, where a tax cut on some vehicles last year helped increase GM's sales in its biggest market to a record 3.9 million vehicles.

GM also said its results in South America -- hard hit by the recession and political instability -- should improve in 2017, although executives expressed a cautious view in Europe because of the unfolding impact of Brexit.

Write to Mike Colias at mike.colias

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 10, 2017 13:46 ET (18:46 GMT)

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