Car sales increased at their slowest rate in three years in 2015
Beijing - AFP
Auto sales in China, the world's largest car market, decreased marginally in February from a year ago, data from an industry group showed Thursday, in a gloomy signal for the Chinese economy.
A total of 1.58 million vehicles were sold in the country last month, down from 1.59 million in February 2015, figures provided by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed.
The figure marked a sharp drop from sales of 2.5 million in January, when consumers rushed to buy ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell on February 8 this year.
Car sales increased at their slowest rate in three years in 2015 as growth in the world's second-largest economy lost momentum.
Vehicle sales in China rose nearly five percent to 24.6 million last year while expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) slowed to its lowest rate since 1990.
The government slashed the purchase tax on passenger cars with small engines in October, which continues to boost the auto market.
Sales of passenger cars with engines smaller than 1.6 litres rose 5.5 percent in the January-February period from a year ago to 2.57 million units, accounting for 71 percent of total passenger car sales, CAAM said in a statement.
Global markets are worried about the Chinese economy and the government last week announced a growth target of 6.5-7.0 percent for this year, down from "around 7.0" percent for 2015.
US auto giant General Motors sold more than 245,000 vehicles in China last month, down 9.3 percent from a year ago, it said in a statement.
It blamed the fall on the timing of this year's holiday, which came 11 days earlier than in 2015 and so brought the buying rush forward into January.