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Western European car sales fall as trade, Brexit hit confidence

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Western European car sales fall as trade, Brexit hit confidence
FILE PHOTO: New Volkswagen cars are seen at the Berlin Brandenburg international airport Willy Brandt (BER) in Schoenefeld, Germany, August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke   -   Copyright  Hannibal Hanschke(Reuters)
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PARIS (Reuters) – Western European car sales fell 8.5 percent in December to end the year slightly lower, as emissions-test bottlenecks gave way to a broader economic slowdown and consumer jitters over Brexit and trade, according to LMC Automotive data.

Registrations fell to 942,340 cars last month from 1.03 million a year earlier, the consulting firm said on Monday. Its numbers are based on national sales data and estimates for some of the smallest markets.

Prospects for 2019 are “a little brighter”, the firm said, predicting Western European sales growth of 0.8 percent for the year on the assumption that London and its EU partners reach agreement on the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc.

But a no-deal Brexit in March would likely lead to a 7 percent UK full-year sales decline, the forecaster said, pushing regional auto market growth into “negative territory” for 2019.

(Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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