Western Europe car sales extend 'bumpy' recovery-LMC

PARIS, Sept 4 Thu Sep 4, 2014 6:36am EDT

PARIS, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Western European car sales rose 1.2 percent in August, the 12th consecutive monthly gain, as faltering German and French demand was offset by strong gains in the UK and Spain, according to industry data compiled by LMC Automotive.

Registrations came in at 640,123 cars in a slow holiday month, the automotive consulting firm said, but the selling rate fell back to 11.91 million cars per year from 12.18 million in July on a seasonally adjusted basis.

August was "a slightly disappointing month, with Germany, France and Italy all lower," LMC forecasting chief Jonathon Poskitt said. "Recent results continue to indicate the road to recovery will be a bumpy one."

Europe's auto market bottomed out in 2013, the end of a six-year slump, but the tentative rebound remains vulnerable to weak consumer confidence and economic outlooks, clouded by mounting geopolitical uncertainties.

LMC maintained its 5 percent full-year sales growth forecast, in line with the year-to-date gain. Calendar effects led to one fewer August sales days than a year earlier, paring the advance.

The German, French and Italian sales declines published this week have stoked concerns that the recovery may be losing momentum.

A sustained surge in UK car registrations, which posted a 9.4 percent gain for August, is also expected to slow in coming months, the country's SMMT industry body said.

But Spain, one of the markets worst hit by the financial crisis, saw its annualised selling rate rise 1.7 percent to 849,155 cars, LMC said. (Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by James Regan)