UPDATE 1-French car registrations extend decline

Fri Mar 1, 2013 4:18am EST

* French car registrations fall 12 pct in February

* Ford leads declines, down 33 pct

* CCFA now sees market down at least 5 pct this year (Adds details, calendar effects)

By Laurence Frost

PARIS, March 1 (Reuters) - French car registrations tumbled 12 percent in February, the country's main auto industry body said on Friday, as a weak economy continued to weigh on demand for new vehicles.

Registrations fell to 143,366 cars in a 15th consecutive monthly contraction, the Paris-based CCFA said in a statement. Ford led the decline among major carmakers with a 33 percent sales slump.

PSA Peugeot Citroen sales dropped 16 percent in its home market, while smaller domestic rival Renault recorded an 11 percent decline.

The CCFA also cut its full-year market outlook, saying 2013 registrations would fall by at least 5 percent, compared with a "stable" forecast given at the start of the year.

The February decline also reflected a smaller number of sales days than in the year-earlier month. Corrected for these calendar effects, registrations fell a more modest 7.7 percent.

Germany's Volkswagen, which has so far resisted the worst of Europe's protracted market slump, recorded a 7.5 percent drop in February sales. Its French market share rose to 14.14 percent for the first two months of the year from 13.77 percent a year earlier.

South Korea's Hyundai-Kia bucked the falling market with a 5 percent gain - buoyed by a 24 percent sales surge for the Hyundai brand.

Toyota sales rose 12 percent as the Japanese automaker continued to recover business lost in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and resulting industrial disruption.

Germany's BMW also claimed a bigger share of the shrinking French market as its sales fell just 2.7 percent. (Editing by James Regan)