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China auto sales down 5.3 percent as SUV demand sags

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BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales shrank by 5.3 percent in July from a year earlier as SUV demand sagged, adding to signs of economic malaise amid a tariff battle with Washington.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said Friday that drivers in the biggest auto market bought 1.6 million sedans, SUVs and minivans. Total sales, including trucks and buses, fell 4 percent to 1.9 million.

Demand has cooled amid forecasts of slowing economic growth after Beijing tightened lending controls to cool surging debt.

Sales of pure electric and gasoline-electric hybrids, boosted by subsidies and other government support, rose 47.7 percent to 84,000 but made up just 5 percent of the total.

SUV sales, usually the industry’s bright spot, contracted 8.4 percent to 633,000. Sedan sales shrank 1.2 percent to 815,000.

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