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Stocks

Surge in January sales boosts shares

HONG KONG -- Shares of China's Guangzhou Automobile Group, or GAC Group, gained here for the first time in three days Thursday on news that new-car sales jumped 36% on the year to 130,300 units in January.

     The issue ended up 7.31% at 7.05 Hong Kong dollars (91 cents) after reaching as high as HK$7.08.

     January sales rose 25% on the year to 43,000 units for Guangqi Honda Automobile, a joint venture with Japan's Honda Motor, according to a GAC Group announcement after trading hours Wednesday. Sales at subsidiary GAC Toyota Motor soared 36% to 45,000 units.

     The group also sold 140% more SUVs on the year. Foreign car brands and SUVs are popular in China, so the fact that GAC Group offers both is a strength, said Mark To of Wing Fung Financial Group.

     Competitor Geely Automobile Holdings, which sells cars under its own brand, announced after-hours Wednesday that January sales climbed 2% on the year to 60,000 units. The shares ended up 2.06% Thursday at HK$2.97.

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