New car sales in Venezuela more than doubled in June compared with the same month a year ago, reflecting a strong rebound in vehicle purchases that mirrored a recovery in the economy, the Venezuelan Automobile Chamber reportedly said.

10,775 cars were sold last month compared to 5,185 units in June 2003, an increase of 108%, while sales for the six months through June rose by 94% to 52,741 units from 27,246 for the same period in 2003, Reuters said.

The June sales figure was the highest monthly total since November 2001, when more than 12,000 units were sold, the report noted.

According to the news agency, president Hugo Chavez’s government points to the strong recovery in car sales as one of the signs that Venezuela is pulling out of an economic slump largely triggered by fierce political conflict over the rule of the left-wing leader.

A short-lived coup in April 2002 and a two-month opposition general strike during December the same year through January 2003 disrupted oil exports and badly hit overall growth and consumption, including car sales, Reuters noted, adding that car sales were also crimped last year after the government implemented strict currency controls.

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But in the first quarter of 2004, the economy of the world’s No. 5 oil exporter grew 29.8%, compared with the same 2003 period, according to the Central Bank, Reuters said.

This year, local vehicle manufacturers expect to sell 100,000 units, a 50% increase over last year. In 2001, 124,633 units were sold, the report said.