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Business

European car sales up markedly

There's been a surge in new car registrations in major European markets, providing another sign that the Continent is on the mend economically. Most recent gains were logged by EU's problem children.

Car sales measured by the number of new vehicles registered went up considerably in the European Union in April. The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) on Tuesday reported a 6.9-percent increase year-on-year.

Analysts viewed the fresh figures as proof that the bloc's economy was finally picking up, with car sales always having been a closely watched indicator of economic health.

Roughly 1.17 million passenger cars were sold in the EU in April, up from about 1.09 million vehicles in the same month a year earlier. The pickup marked the 20th consecutive month of year-on-year increases, ACEA noted.

All eyes on Greece

But what's new is that the strongest surge was recorded in nations hit hardest by the eurozone crisis. April car sales rose by 24.2 percent in Italy. Even more remarkably, new registrations in Greece soared by a staggering 43.3 percent.

Bucking the general trend, only five of the 28 EU member countries witnessed a drop in sales, notably Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Europe's largest carmaker, Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen, managed to retain its leadership position in April with a market share of 26.1 percent, followed by French carmakers Peugeot-Citroen (PSA) and Renault.

hg/sri (dpa, ACEA)

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