UPDATE 1-Sales of new cars in Russia rise 25 y/y in Feb

(Adds detail, comments)

MOSCOW, March 6 (Reuters) - Sales of new cars in Russia rose 24.7 percent in February from a year ago, the Association of European Businesses (AEB) lobby group said on Tuesday, recovering for the twelveth month in a row after a steep fall.

Once-booming car market was a high-profile victim of Russia’s economic downturn but returned to growth last year as the economy began to recover.

In the first two months of 2018, 235,641 new cars were sold in Russia, AEB data showed.

“Over 27 percent improvement in the first two months are an impressive turnaround for the market which was battered by bad news until just one year ago,” Joerg Schreiber, Chairman of the AEB Automobile Manufacturers Committee, said in a note.

In January, sales of new cars in Russia rose 31.3 percent, posting the biggest monthly increase since 2011.

Schreiber said AEB retains positive outlook for car sales in 2018 adding that it would be reasonable to expect the annual pace of sales growth to slow “as a result of the growing base effect applying from March last year.”

AEB gave no forecast for 2018 sales increase.

Analysts at the PwC consultancy in Russia said they expected Russia’s new car sales to grow 11 percent this year thanks to higher oil prices.

Russian car sales totalled 1.6 million units in 2017, rising 11.9 percent from the previous year, which accounted for around a half of nearly 3 million units sold in 2012 before the market started shrinking. (Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Louise Heavens)