New vehicle sales in Malaysia fell - by close to 28% to 42,471 units -  in July, compared with 58,646 units in the same month of last year, according to data released by the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).

Seasonal factors were responsible in part for the sharp decline in sales which were also down by 26% on the previous month. The annual Muslim holiday of Eid this year fell in July, instead of August as it did last year, resulting in many purchases being brought forward into June.

The fact sales in June were up year on year points to a more persistent slowdown in underlying demand. Economic growth has slowed sharply this year, to 4.0% in the second quarter from 4.2% in the first quarter, 5% in the whole of 2015 and 6% in 2014.

Cumulative seven month sales declined by 16.5% to 317,930 units from 380,900 units in the same period of last year. Passenger car sales amounted to 282,004 units in this period, while commercial vehicle sales were 35,926 units.

The MAA last month revised its full-year market forecast sharply lower, from 650,000 units in January to 580,000 units in view of the weak first-half performance.