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Economy

October sales paint picture of brisk holiday season

MUMBAI -- India's auto market seems to have steered back into the fast lane, at least for the October-November holiday season.

     October new-car sales soared 20% year on year to 327,225 vehicles, according to figures released Tuesday by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. That made the month the fourth in a row to see new-car sales grow from the previous year and the first in three years to put up 20% growth.

     Sales of passenger cars surged 21% in October to 268,629 units, while sales of commercial vehicles climbed 13%.

     The Hindu festival of Diwali makes October-November the biggest holiday sales season of the year for retailers in India, as well as an important indicator of future consumer spending trends.

     The steep jump in October new-car sales in some part reflects the lackluster Diwali sales season of last year. But insiders also cite positive factors including a decline in interest rates and the aggressive way that automakers have introduced new models to spark demand.

     Maruti Suzuki, the largest automaker in India, enjoyed a 25% jump in October sales. But as one executive of the company noted, it remains to be seen how strong demand will be once the Diwali holiday shopping spree fades. What Maruti Suzuki will do is watch trends closely and continue to release new models.

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