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China Auto Sales Bounce in First Quarter on Tax Cuts, Discounts

China's automobile market, an engine of the country's expanding economy, rose 5% in March and 6.8% in the first quarter, with sales beating estimates and raising hopes for manufacturers that stimulus measures are working to accelerate growth.

Slowing auto sales last year were a key factor in China's overall economic sluggishness, with negative repercussions spreading to investors and markets worldwide. The government last fall halved the tax on smaller cars, while manufacturers offered deeper discounts.

Ford (F - Get Report) , whose presence in China had lagged behind other global manufacturers, posted a 14% increase in sales for the quarter, which included those of local partners. With deliveries of 314,454 vehicles, Ford's sales in the country are roughly a third of those by General Motors (GM - Get Report) and its partners. GM, the market leader, posted a 0.2% gain, with 963,652 deliveries.

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