Mercedes sales in China cheer Daimler

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German luxury car maker Daimler said Friday that earnings at its Mercedes-Benz division would pick up in the second quarter of the year thanks to China, which would be the sector's "centre of gravity."

"From today's perspective, we expect Mercedes-Benz Cars' EBIT (operating profit) in the second quarter of this year to be higher than in the first quarter," chairman Dieter Zetsche told investors and analysts in Beijing.

Mercedes' earnings before interest and tax amounted to 806 million euros (992 million dollars) in the first three months of the year, a statement said.

The unit was also expected to achieve a targeted 10 percent return on sales in the second half of 2012, Zetsche told the group's first investor day to be held in what is now the world's largest auto market.

"China is increasingly becoming the centre of gravity of the automotive industry and has recently become Mercedes-Benz cars' third-largest sales market," Zetsche said.

On Thursday, Moody's forecast a stronger recovery for the global auto sector than for the economy as a whole in several parts of the world as demand picked up, especially in emerging markets like China and in the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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