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The long recovery in Europe’s car market continued in March with car sales up by 5.2% – the 31st consecutive month of growth – according to data issued by LMC Automotive.

The Seasonally Adjusted Annualised Rate (SAAR) of sales stood at 14.3m units a year, which compares with a 13.2m outturn for 2015. YTD nearly all markets are up versus Q1 2015, and while the stand out performance in terms of growth last month came from the Italian market (+17.4%), many others (including France and Spain) put in strong single digit percentage growth.

In a key month for the UK market, new car registrations climbed to 519,000 units, which translated into a selling rate of 2.9m units a year. While sales in Western Europe’s biggest market, Germany, were flat last month, they are up 4.5% for the first quarter.

The French market managed a strong month and although sales in Spain were a little lower, the selling rate suggests there is no immediate cause for concern. LMC said.

LMC said that it retains a cautious position with regard to the full-year outlook, mindful of threats to the regional economic growth (via a global slowdown), which itself looks a little less bright than a few months ago, or internal risks such as ‘Brexit’. Nonetheless, with the improvements in registrations in recent months, LMC upped its 2016 car sales forecast by 150,000 units to just over 14m units.

“It’s good to see another positive month, overall,” said LMC analyst Jonathon Poskitt. “Growth is quite broad based across the region and it looks like there is enough market momentum to at least take the West European car market to 14m units this year. However, there are some significant risks to our forecast and that leads us to err on the side of caution at this stage.” 

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By GlobalData