World Bulletin / News Desk
The European car market clocked up robust growth in May, with new car registrations returning almost to pre-crisis levels, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association ACEA said on Friday.
"In volume terms, this result comes close to May 2007 levels, just before the economic crisis hit the auto industry," the carmakers said.
With the exception of Britain, where new car registrations declined by 8.5 percent, Europe's biggest markets performed well last month.
Sales sped ahead by 12.9 percent in Germany last month and by 11.2 percent in Spain, followed by France with growth of 8.9 percent and Italy with 8.2 percent.
Taking the five months from January to May, demand for passenger cars also grew throughout the EU, with new registrations up 5.3 percent at 6.719 million units.
Here again, Italy Spain, Germany and France all saw their markets grow over the first five months of the year, while Britain registered a slight decline, ACEA said.
German car giant Volkswagen remained Europe's biggest manufacturer, with registrations of its VW, Audi, Skoda, SEAT and Porsche brands rising by 3.2 percent in the five-month period. It commands a 23.3-percent share of the market.
French maker PSA Peugeot Citroen saw its sales rise by 1.9 percent in the period from January to May, while new registrations of Renault raced ahead by 8.1 percent.
Each has a market share of 10.1 percent.
New registrations of Opel and Vauxhall, the European arms of US giant General Motors currently being taken over by PSA, slipped by 1.3 percent.
By contrast, US rival Ford saw its sales in European rise by 4.9 percent, new registrations of Fiat Chrysler were up 10.7 percent, Daimler sales grew by 7.8 percent and BMW sales were up 3.2 percent.
Japanese maker, Toyota, the world's number two, also performed well, with registrations rising by 24.4 percent, while rival Nissan booked an increase of 6.0 percent.
The European market for new cars expanded by 6.8 percent to 14.64 million units in 2016, almost the level seen in 2008 when the economic crisis began.
It fell as low as 11.8 million units in 2013.
Volatility eased as traders focused on the world economy and corporate earnings after a week dominated by the dramatic spike in tensions over North Korea, which triggered a global sell-off before prices bounced back Monday.
Investors greeted the more conciliatory tone after US stocks dropped three days in a row last week on President Donald Trump's vow of "fire and fury" if North Korea continued to pursue its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
The ultra-conservative kingdom has moved to diversify its traditionally oil-dependent economy following a sharp fall in crude prices.
In its monthly report on the global oil market, the International Energy Agency said, however, that it believes the supply glut is easing, partly because demand is growing faster.
US stocks have been in retreat since President Donald Trump Tuesday issued a fiery warning to North Korea to halt its nuclear program.
The move by one of Japan's best-known firms greatly reduces the chance of an embarrassing delisting from the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE).
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index weakened by 0.5 percent to 7,503.39 points.
The approval by the European Commission comes just over two months after the European Central Bank -- which took on the role of the eurozone's banking supervisor in 2014 -- allowed the sale to go ahead for a symbolic fee of one euro.
BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and Total have all published results in recent days, showing they pocketed $23 billion in net profit in the first half fo the year.
Higher cereal, sugar and dairy prices pushed food price index by 10.2 percent annually in July
HSBC was also a big riser, gaining three percent at £7.65 ($10, 8.5 euros) in late morning trade after the British banking giant announced a share buyback plan alongside a rise in first-half profits.
Both main crude contracts made strong gains, with WTI testing $50 a barrel for the first time since late May and Brent heading towards $53, while mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto saw their share price rise as commodities strengthened.