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Britain puts brake on slide in European car sales
An acceleration last month in British car helped to put the brakes on Europes 18 straight months of sliding sales.

Europes deepening recession and high unemployment has hurt the automotive industry, but figures out yesterday showed the first rise in sales for a year and a half.

New car registrations in April were up 1.7pc on the same time last year, according to the European automakers association, the ACEA.

Although sales were boosted by two extra work days last month due to an early Easter, sales figures for the year so far gave some cause for hope that the collapse in sales might finally be easing.

However, Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS, pointed out that its a bit like the 'dead cat bounce.

Car sales have been so low for so long they may have reached their low point, but Im wary about calling this a turning point because consumers in most of the eurozone remain under pressure, he added.

A pick-up in sales in Germany and Spain where sales rose 3.8pc and 10.8pc respectively helped bolster Europes figures. Britain saw a near 15pc boom, leading to its best April sales in five years.

Volkswagen, Renault and Daimler were among the car brands to witness a rise in sales last month.

There were signs of health in Britains automotive industry yesterday as car dealer Pendragon said that its new car sales in the UK during the first quarter had risen by 16.7pc on the previous year.

Meanwhile luxury car retailer HR Owen said that used car sales had been particularly strong since the start of the year and it expected half-year profits to be higher than previously indicated.

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