Mercedes Sales Rise 12 Percent

Daimler said sales of its Mercedes-Benz brand cars rose more than 12 percent on the year in December as global markets picked up.

BERLIN (AP) -- Sales of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz brand cars rose more than 12 percent on the year in December as global markets picked up, the company said Friday.

Some 97,700 Mercedes cars were sold worldwide last month, Daimler said.

Still, the company saw sales over the whole of 2009 decline by 9.7 percent to a little over 1.01 million.

"We were able to steadily increase our sales in the second half of the year after facing strong market declines in the first six months," Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said. Fourth-quarter sales were up 13 percent on the year, he added.

Sales of ultracompact Smart cars were down 12 percent in December at 9,900, and declined 13.2 percent for the full year to 117,000.

Mercedes-Benz CarsĀ -- which combines Mercedes and Smart -- saw its strongest annual growth in December in the Asia-Pacific region, where sales were up 78.7 percent. In China, they increased by more than 161 percent.

However, sales rose by only 0.1 percent in western Europe and 0.2 percent in the United States, which are among its biggest markets.

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