BERLIN (Reuters) -- New-car sales in Germany rose 7 percent in December against the same month a year before, returning Europe's largest auto market to annual growth after two years of shrinking sales.
Overall car registrations rose to 229,700 autos in December and climbed 3 percent in 2014 as a whole to 3.04 million, the VDA indutsry association said on Monday.
Sales in December were helped by an extra selling day, industry sources told Reuters.
Recovering demand in Germany, whose auto market is dominated by homegrown marques Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes, mirrors a similar trend in Spain and Italy, where annual sales rose 18 percent and 4 percent, respectively, industry data showed.
By contrast, annual registrations in France rose only 0.3 percent, after slumping 7 percent in December, the CCFA auto industry association said.
The German market however remains weak compared with previous years. "The number of cars sold still lags the 2012 sales by around 45,000," Peter Fuss, analyst at accountants EY, said in a statement.
Commercial and fleet registrations boosted sales, while private purchases dropped to 1.02 million cars, the lowest level since 2000, Fuss said.
The KBA federal transport authority plans to release a more specific brand-by-brand breakdown of German car sales on Wednesday.