Losses in Europe dipped to $175 million for the quarter, from $294 million in the same period a year earlier. GM lost almost $1.8 billion in the region last year, but executives said the company's European operations are starting to improve.GM has said it believes it won't get its business there back to a break-even level until mid-decade.
"We actually gained a bit of market share in Europe during the quarter," said Dan Ammann, GM's chief financial officer, but he added he doesn't see signs that the region's economy will turn around any time soon.
"It is too soon to call the bottom in Europe," he said. "When you have 20%-plus unemployment in a number of countries, it is still far too soon."
European new-car sales fell 10% during the first quarter of this year, to 2.9 million, compared with 3.3 million a year earlier, the European automakers association ACEA reported last month.
GM South American operations slid into a loss of $38 million during the quarter compared with a profit of $153 million in the same period a year earlier.
The rest of GM's international operations, mostly China, saw operating profit dip to $495 million in the first quarter, from $521 million a year earlier.
"We had strength in China offsetting some of the business in other markets," Ammann said, primarily slowing in Australia and India.
Earlier this week, Chrysler Group said that its first-quarter profit fell 65% to $166 million. Higher expenses on launch models and slower business in Europe and South America hurt the automaker's earnings.
Last week, Ford Motor Co. said its first-quarter profit rose more than 15%, helped by record earnings in North America and a strong performance by its auto-financing arm.