WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Treasury Department said on Monday it will begin another round of sales of the General Motors Co stock it acquired during the government's bailout of the U.S. auto sector.

The move follows a registration statement by GM last month making it easier for the Treasury to sell its remaining 241.7 million shares, or nearly 18 percent, of common stock of the No. 1 U.S. automaker.

It also will bring GM a step closer to eliminating the stigma of government ownership.

GM executives have chafed under the tag of "Government Motors" since its 2009 government-sponsored bailout and bankruptcy that left the U.S. Treasury with a 60.8 percent ownership of the Detroit automaker.

Last week, GM came within 56 cents of its November 2010 IPO price of $33 after it reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings.

"We are pleased with the progress to date and will continue exiting this investment in accordance with our previously announced plan and timetable, and in a manner that maximizes returns for taxpayers," Tim Massad, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability, said in a statement.

In December, the Treasury said it would fully exit its GM investments within the following 12 to 15 months, "subject to market conditions." But it gave no specific dates for the resumption of share offerings.

Executives at GM have said that putting this issue behind them will improve the company's image and boost sales as they believe some consumers have held the bailout against them.

The automaker's shares were not much moved by the news. Just after midday (12:00 p.m. EDT), GM shares were down 5 cents at $32.05 on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa in Washington and Bernie Woodall in Detroit; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, G Crosse)

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