* EPS excluding items $0.29 vs. Wall St view $0.25 * Sees gradual improvement in auto sales in second half * No. 1 auto dealership chain plans to increase inventory * Shares down 2.5 pct (Adds detail on share price) DETROIT, July 31 (Reuters) - Top U.S. auto dealer chain AutoNation Inc posted a 29 percent drop in quarterly earnings, but forecast an improving domestic vehicle market after slashing inventory costs and seeing a sharp gain in July sales. "The downward spiral has been ...
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