MILAN — Fiat Chrysler (FCA) posted a 7% rise in fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, boosted by strong business in North America and better results in Latin America as it heads into a merger with France's PSA.

The Italian-American carmaker said adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose to 2.12 billion euros ($2.3 billion), in line with a 2.11 billion forecast in Reuters poll of analysts.

That left its adjusted operating profit for the year at 6.67 billion euros ($7.34 billion), just shy of its target of over 6.7 billion euros. Its adjusted EBITDA margin came in at 6.2%, in line with its target of more than 6.1%.

A trader said Fiat Chrysler results were "a touch above" expectations and the carmaker's shares in Milan were up 3.4% at 1300 GMT following the results.

Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot maker PSA agreed in December to combine forces in a $50 billion deal to create the world's No. 4 carmaker, in response to slower global demand and the mounting cost of making cleaner cars amid tighter emissions rules.

Chief Executive Mike Manley said last month that talks with PSA were progressing well and that he hoped to complete the deal by early 2021.

FCA reiterated its plan to boost adjusted EBIT to above 7 billion euros ($7.7 billion) this year.

In slides prepared for an analyst call, FCA said it was monitoring the global impact of coronavirus in China.

FCA operates in the country through a loss-making joint venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC) and has a 0.35% share of the Chinese passenger car market.

Reporting by Giulio Piovaccari; Additional reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Stephen Jewkes, Jason Neely and David Clarke.

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