DETROIT -- An influx of new Asian and European auto models chipped away at the October sales of American-made vehicles, according to monthly sales figures.

Ford Motor Co., the Chrysler division of DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp. reported a combined 5 percent decline in car and light truck U.S. sales for the month compared with October 1998. With all but one automaker reporting, sales of Asian vehicles were up about 16 percent while sales of European vehicles rose 38 percent from last October.GM said total sales were down 4 percent, with a 14 percent decline in cars. Sales of GM sport utility vehicles, minivans and light trucks continued to be strong in October. The world's largest automaker reported a 9 percent gain over the same month last year.

Ford's total sales were down 6 percent, with its cars posting an 8 percent decline and its light trucks a 5 percent decrease.

Total sales of DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge and Jeep vehicles declined 4 percent compared with last October. Chrysler car sales were down 9 percent while light truck sales dipped 1 percent for the month.

The percent change is based on the daily sales rate. There were 26 selling days in October, compared to 27 in October 1998.

Paul Ballew, GM's general director of industry and market analysis, in part blamed the decline on GM's preparations for some new 2000 models, coupled with a decrease in fleet sales in order to meet retail sales.

"Car sales are well above expectations this year," Ballew said. "No one expected economy and small cars to be up this year, everybody expected erosion in this part of the market."

Jamie Jameson, DaimlerChrysler vice president of sales and marketing operations, said sales were down partly because of a "huge blowout sale" in October 1998 of Dodge Ram pickup trucks.