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Originally published Friday, January 11, 2013 at 2:42 AM

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China auto sales accelerate in December

China's auto sales rose 7.1 percent in 2012 after an economic recovery boosted growth in December.

The Associated Press

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BEIJING —

China's auto sales rose 7.1 percent in 2012 after an economic recovery boosted growth in December.

An industry group, the China Association of Auto Manufacturers, said Friday that 2012 passenger car sales totaled 15.5 million vehicles. Sales in December rose 6.9 percent to 1.46 million vehicles.

China is the world's biggest auto market by number of vehicles sold, and global automakers are looking to it to drive growth.

Sales growth slowed sharply in early 2012 as the Chinese economy cooled and some cities imposed purchase restrictions to curb traffic and smog. Growth bottomed out at 3.7 percent in August before starting to recover.

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