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BMW posts 2008 sales of 53 billion euros

FRANKFURT, February 6 – The German luxury automaker BMW said on Friday that it had acheived sales of 53 billion euros (71.6 billion dollars) in 2008, five percent below the level one year earlier.

After recording sales of 56 billion euros in 2007, the group said in a statement Friday that the auto market had slumped sharply in the fourth quarter of last year.

Sales of BMW\’s three auto brands, which include Mini and Rolls-Royce, fell by 9.4 percent to 48.8 billion euros, while motorcycle sales edged up by 0.2 percent to 1.2 billion.

Financial services, which have been a source of worry for the group, posted a strong increase of 12.8 percent to 15.7 billion euros however.

But the statement said that "business conditions for the automobile sector deteriorated sharply again in the fourth quarter of 2008."

Investors were nonetheless encouraged by the figures and shares in the company shot up by 5.51 percent to 20.68 euros in early trading on the Frankfurt stock exchange, while the DAX index of leading stocks was 0.61 percent stronger overall.

The group confirmed that 2008 full-year earnings would be solidly in the black when it releases detailed figures on March 18.

BMW had already said that total production came to 1.44 million vehicles in 2008, an annualised drop of 4.3 percent.

Like rivals, the company has been hit by a global slump in auto sales, especially in the United States, its main market.

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