PARIS -- French car sales rose 7.1 percent in December to result in a slight gain for 2004, a difficult year due to soaring raw material prices and tough price pressures from overseas manufacturers.
New car registrations in December rose to 171,823 vehicles from 160,455 in December 2003, France's CCFA car makers' association said on Monday.
On an underlying basis, sales rose 2.4 percent based on the same number of business days.
Full-year sales were up 0.2 percent, after some improvement in November and December pulled 2004 out of negative territory.
"The last months of the year allowed for a return to stability versus 2003," the CCFA said in a statement.
After a tough 2003, when sales in Europe's worst-hit auto market fell 6.3 percent, there were hopes that 2004 would mark the start of a recovery in France's car market.
But a series of monthly losses during the year put paid to such predictions, and major manufacturers and industry commentators expected at best a stable full-year tally.
December sales at French manufacturer PSA Peugeot Citroen rose 12.9 percent, while rival Renault saw sales dip 0.6 percent during the month.