FRANKFURT -- European new-car registrations rose by 5.5 percent in September, helped by a surge in UK auto sales and an extra working day. The increase provided fresh evidence that the region's slump may be slowly bottoming out, industry watchers said.
Registrations in the EU and EFTA markets increased to 1.19 million vehicles last month compared with September 2012, industry association ACEA said in a statement today.
ACEA said nine-month sales fell 4 percent to 9.34 million cars. Industrywide sales in the region are still on track to reach a two-decade low this year in the sixth consecutive annual contraction.
The end of an 18-month euro-area recession helped to boost demand last month. Gross domestic product of the 17 countries using the euro returned to growth in the second quarter after the longest recession since the currency was created more than a decade ago.
Investor confidence in Germany, Europe's biggest economy and largest car market, rose to a three-year high this month. Consumer confidence in the UK, which ranks second in the region's car sales, was at a six-year high in September.
Recovery 'on course'
Industry watchers have been waiting to see if last month would reveal that a car sales decline in August was a blip or a signal of further problems to come. Europe's car market fell in the first eight months to the lowest level since records began in 1990.