Strong light-vehicle sales in the United States and the United Kingdom helped keep the global sales rate in February virtually unchanged from January, according to JD Power-LMC Automotive Services.

The seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) of global light-vehicle sales during February is estimated to have been 55.8 million units-up slightly from January’s selling rate of 55.7 million units.

Light-vehicle sales in the U.S. rebounded from January’s 15.8 million-unit selling rate to a 16.7 million-unit rate in February.

“February sales in the U.S. started slowly, but picked up significantly in the last two weeks of the month,” said Dr. Robert Schnorbus, chief economist for J.D. Power-LMC in Troy, Mich. “Heavy use of incentives at the end of the month pushed sales past most people’s expectations.”

The United Kingdom is still in the midst of a boom in car sales, keeping sales solid in an otherwise weak Western Europe market.

“The results in Western Europe would have been weaker had it not been for the stellar selling rate in the U.K.,” said Charles Young, director of research for J.D. Power-LMC in Oxford, England.

Canada’s February sales were up 15.3 percent compared with a year ago, while Mexico’s sales dropped 3.3 percent. In East Asia, the strength of the Korean market-up 11.1 percent compared with a year ago-is helping to compensate for a continuing fall in Japanese demand.

In South America, Argentina is deeply depressed by economic crisis, and Brazilian demand also dipped in February, leaving the MERCOSUR market down sharply. Mercosur sales in February were down 11.2 percent compared with a year ago.

“We’ve seen an almost total collapse of the Argentine market this year,” Schnorbus said. “Brazil carried South American sales in January, but even Brazilian sales were down slightly in February. We expect Brazilian sales to rebound fairly quickly.”