Western Europe car sales decline 10.6% in February
FRANKFURT -- New-car registrations in western Europe fell 10.6 percent to 771,695 in February, market forecaster LMC Automotive said.
Registrations have dropped 9.7 percent to 1.62 million cars in the region in the first two months compared with the same period in 2012, the forecaster said.
"The market remains desperately weak as a dismal economic backdrop continues to hamper sales,'' LMC said in a statement, but added that the seasonally adjusted annualized rate [SAAR], based on February figures, fell 5.3 percent to 11.35 million, an improvement over the January result, which dropped 10.3 percent to 10.5 million.
New-car sales dropped in all of the major regional markets last month except the UK where registrations were up 7.9 percent, buoyed by private consumption which made up 29 percent of monthly sales, LMC said. The forecaster said the results were "encouraging" and supported its view that the UK faces another year of growth. Through February, sales in the country rose 10.3 percent.
In Germany, Europe's largest market, February sales fell 10.5 percent. In the first two months they dropped 9.3 percent. LMC said it expects German sales to remain subdued in the next few months before picking up in the second half as the economy improves.
In France, volume was down 12.2 percent in February and 13.5 percent in the first two months. In Italy which has been particularly badly hit by weak consumer confidence, sales fell 17.4 percent. Since January they have fallen 17.5 percent.
Sales in Spain fell 9.8 percent last month and 9.7 percent in the first two months, despite efforts by the government to stimulate consumer demand through the introduction of a car scrappage program.
LMC reiterated its forecast that western Europe's full-year sales will drop 4 percent this year to 11.3 million, the sixth continual year of decline in the region.
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