New vehicle sales in Malaysia increased by 8% to 54,696 units in January, from 50,622 units a year earlier, according to data released by the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA).

The market was lifted by buying activity ahead of the Chinese New Year, according to the Association.

The domestic economy continues to benefit from buoyant consumer and business confidence, helped by still relatively low interest rates. The MAA does expect the market to be weaker in February, however, as a result of fewer working days due to the New Year holidays.

Sales of passenger cars increased by 7.9% to 49,589 units in January – from 45,973 units a year earlier – while commercial vehicle sales jumped nearly 10% to 5,109 units, from 4,649 units previously.

Vehicle production increased by 17.5% to 60,283 units, from 51,296 units a year earlier, with passenger car output up by 19.6% at 55,217 units and commercial vehicle output dropping slightly, by 1.1% to 5,066 units.