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South African vehicle sales increased at the slowest pace in more than two years in March as companies cut back on purchases, an industry group said.
Sales (NAAMTSYY) rose 4.8 percent in March from a year earlier to 56,110, the Pretoria-based National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa said in an e-mailed statement today. Growth in sales eased from 6.4 percent in February.
Companies have pared back spending as the debt crisis in Europe curbed demand in a region that buys about a third of South African manufactured exports. Growth in Africa’s largest economy is set to slow to 2.7 percent this year from 3.1 percent in 2011, according to the government.
Passenger-car sales increased 11 percent in March from a year earlier to 38,970, while purchases of light commercial vehicles, such as pick-up trucks and minivans, fell 7.5 percent to 14,556, Naamsa said. Sales of heavy trucks and buses declined 2.7 percent to 1,650 units.
“Sharp increases in energy and transport costs would impact negatively on consumer disposable income in the months ahead,” the association said. Domestic sales are “expected to continue to reflect growth but at relatively subdued rates.”
Brent crude oil has surged 11 percent in London this year, prompting the government to boost the price of gasoline by 6.3 percent in April in Gauteng province, the country’s commercial hub.
Vehicle exports slumped 20 percent to 23,956 last month because of lower demand from Europe, the association said.
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