Brazilian vehicle sales rebounded in May over a drop the previous month on strong demand fuelled by stronger economic growth, an industry group said on Friday.

Sales climbed 6.6% to 123,100 cars, trucks and buses from 115,500 in April, the National Association of Motor Vehicle Producers, or Anfavea, told Reuters, which noted that, in April, sales had declined 18.5% over March.

The report said vehicle sales rose 15.2% over May 2003, while total sales for the first five months of the year rose 7.9% to 592,400, compared with the period from January to May last year.

“Vehicle sales reflected strong growth in the period, as observed in recent economic figures,” Anfavea president Rogelio Golfarb said, according to Reuters.

The news agency noted that Brazil’s government last week posted a better-than-expected 2.7% rise in first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) over the same year-ago period.

Golfarb told Reuters that Anfavea has kept its domestic sales estimate for the year at 1.54 million vehicles, a 7.8% rise over 2003.

Vehicle production reportedly hit 177,300 units in May, a 4.3% rise over April – in comparison with the same period a year earlier, output was 7.6% higher – but exports fell 4% to $US617.8 million from the previous month though, compared with May 2003, they climbed 47.9%.

So far this year, Brazil’s vehicle sector has posted overseas sales of $2.91 billion, 57.1% higher than in the same year-ago period, Reuters said.