Rises in December car sales in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain suggested a pick-up in demand in southern Europe, although not enough to avoid a sixth straight annual decline in the overall European market in 2013.

Industry data showed new car registrations last month rose 9.4 % in France, 18.2 %in Spain, 12.3 % in Belgium and 1.4 5 in Italy, in a tentative sign that the slump in demand may have bottomed out.

Hit by the financial crisis and resulting economic slump, the European auto market is set to have contracted last year by 25 5, or 4.3 million vehicles, from 2007 levels, analysts at Moody’s Investors service said.

“There is strong evidence of a recovery (for European car sales), driven by low financing costs, improved residual values and used car prices and much better fuel economy of new cars,” said Arndt Ellinghorst, automotive analyst at ISI Group.

The surge in French car sales in December was thanks largely to a 38% jump in registrations by Renault, data supplied by industry association CCFA shows.

New car sales in Italy, Europe’s fourth-largest car market, rose 1.4 % in December from the same month a year ago, to 88,705 vehicles, Italy’s transport ministry said on Thursday.

In Spain, Peugeot topped sales, registering 5,333 vehicles in December, helping new car sales to rise 3.3 % in 2013, rebounding from a 13.4 % drop in 2012, car manufacturers’ association Anfac also said today.

Via Reuters


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