UPDATE 1-Continental AG sees sales growth slowing in 2013

Mon Jan 14, 2013 2:57am EST

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FRANKFURT, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Continental, Germany's biggest tyre maker, said it expected its growth to slow in 2013 as a weak European economy hurts car sales in the region.

Automakers are facing a sustained slump in the European car market as the euro zone debt crisis and government austerity measures sap consumer demand.

"There is still a great deal of uncertainty regarding the course of passenger car production and other of Continental's key sales markets," Chief Executive Elmar Degenhart said in a statement on Monday.

Continental, which also makes auto parts, sees its sales rising by about 5 percent this year after a gain of more than 7 percent to about 32.7 billion euros ($43.6 billion) in 2012.

Continental's outlook is broadly in line with analyst consensus for 2013 sales of 34.3 billion euros, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine data.

The European car market, already near a 20-year low, is expected to shrink another 1.7 percent this year to 17.8 million light vehicles, according to consulting firm LMC Automotive, while global car sales will rise by 2.6 percent.

Continental's Degenhart said he saw global production of passenger cars with a gross weight of up to six tons inching up to 82 million vehicles this year from about 80 million.

The company ranks fourth among the world's biggest tyre makers, trailing Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, Michelin and Bridgestone, the global market leader.

($1 = 0.7493 euros) (Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Christoph Steitz)

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