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Mexico Automobile Output Stalls in December as Exports Drop

Mexico’s auto production was little changed in December as exports fell 9.7 percent on fewer shipments to other Latin American countries and the U.S., an industry trade group said.

Output rose 0.2 percent to 180,597 vehicles last month as exports slid to 154,724, the Mexican Automobile Industry Association said today at an event in Mexico City. Shipments in Latin America declined 32 percent while exports to the U.S., Mexico’s largest foreign market, slid 6.4 percent.

Lower December exports to the U.S. were the result of an “inventory adjustment” and probably will rebound in the coming months, Eduardo Solis, the group’s president, said. He attributed the Latin American drop to annual limits on Mexican car exports to Brazil and to Argentina’s June suspension of an auto accord that the two nations agreed to renew last month.

Mexico’s annual production climbed 13 percent to a record 2.88 million vehicles in 2012 as exports expanded 9.9 percent to 2.36 million, an all-time high. Auto output and exports have almost doubled since 2009, bolstered by the U.S. economic recovery and investments in Mexico by automakers such as Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Volkswagen AG.

This year’s vehicle production is expected to increase about 4 percent to more than 3 million as exports climb as much as 8 percent to 2.55 million, Solis said.

December auto sales in Mexico slid 4.2 percent to 110,849, the first monthly decline from a year earlier since February 2010. Full-year sales rose 9 percent to 987,747, the most since 2008. The annual total may climb to as many as 1.08 million this year, Guillermo Rosales, the Mexican auto dealers association’s executive director of institutional relations, said today.

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