New car sales in western Europe rose for the fifth month in a row in June, buoyed by additional working days in most countries as well as continued strong demand in Spain, Reuters reported.

According to the news agency, Brussels-based industry association group Acea said June sales gained 5.6% over the year-ago period, bringing the total number of cars sold in the first half to 7.84 million vehicles – a rise of 3.3%.

“This increase is partly due to a higher number of working days in all countries except the UK… but also points to some improving of the economic indicators,” ACEA reportedly said in a statement.

Thanks to the added work days, both France and Germany managed to post solid growth figures last month of 6.3% and 4% respectively, Reuters said, adding that Britain suffered a decline of 0.5%, having failed to benefit from the one-off effect of more business days.

The Spanish market experienced the strongest growth among the five biggest European countries, with sales increasing 15% in June, the report said – deliveries by local carmaker Seat climbed 17%.

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Last month’s 5.6% growth for western Europe is in line with estimates published on Monday by investment bank Morgan Stanley, which said sales declined by about 4% when adjusted for the two added working days in most of Europe, Reuters noted.

The report said that, once again, data showed that the trend towards less expensive imports continued in western Europe as Korean car makers made another strong showing – spurred by almost a 50% jump in sales of Kia cars in June, Korean manufacturers boosted their market share last month to 4% from 3.4%.

First-half sales for Korean brands totalled 296,465 vehicles – only slightly more than that of either German premium car maker Audi or BMW – but the 22.3% growth easily outpaced the 12.1% rise reached by their Japanese rivals, Reuters said.

The report noted that, after months of solid car sales growth, Toyota suffered its first year-on-year decline in more than 12 months as registrations slid 2.9% in June, while Renault also had a weak month, as sales dipped 0.4% and market share slipped 0.7% to 11%.

In contrast, most other major European auto companies saw their sales rise last month, Reuters said – among the biggest winners were Ford, which boosted group sales by 10.5%, and BMW, up 9.7%.