Continental sees second-half tyre sales rebound -paper

BERLIN, April 4 Thu Apr 4, 2013 10:20am EDT

BERLIN, April 4 (Reuters) - German auto parts and tyre maker Continental expects tyre sales to rebound in the second half of the year after a first quarter hit by falling demand, Handelsblatt reported on Thursday.

"The first quarter is marked by weak demand and fewer working days," Nikolai Setzer, head of Continental's tyre division was quoted as saying.

Carmakers are scaling back production as demand for cars falls in recession-hit Europe.

Still, Setzer said he "firmly believes" that tyre sales will rebound in the second half and increase 6 percent in 2013 to over 10 billion euros ($12.85 billion), Handelsblatt said.

"We will be forced to adjust the cost structure accordingly if that (second-half rebound) doesn't materialise," he added.

Germany's main auto industry association VDA said on Wednesday that new vehicle registrations in Europe's biggest auto market fell 17 percent in March to 281,200, echoing steep declines in key European regions.

Continental shares were down 2.2 percent at 93 euros by 1340 GMT, the third-biggest decliner in the German blue chip index , which was 0.1 percent higher. ($1 = 0.7783 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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