Car Sales In Europe Decline

Demand for new cars in the European Union dropped more than 16 percent in December — making last year's sales figures the worst in nearly two decades. Greece, Portugal and Italy all had sales declines of between 20 and 40 percent last year, but even stronger economies like France and Germany experienced declines as well.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with another ominous sign from Europe.

We've told you, in recent days, how car sales in the United States have really surged as people finally had some money to spend or finally made a long delayed purchase.

So it's a bad sign that we now have to tell you that demand for new cars in the European Union dropped more than 16 percent in December - making last year's sales figures the worst in almost two decades. Greece, Portugal and Italy all had sales declines of between 20 and 40 percent last year, but even stronger economies like France and Germany experienced declines. Ford and GM both announced almost half a billion dollar in losses in Europe in the last quarter of 2012, and most analysts predict next year won't be any better.

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