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GM upbeat despite poor sales

General Motors (GM) yesterday announced a 22 per cent year-on-year global sales drop for the first six months of 2009, amid the economic slowdown and the company&rsquo;s slide into bankruptcy.<br /><br />But GM global sales improved in the second quarter compared with the first quarter and its chief sales analyst said the US economy has been showing signs of stability.<br /><br />US car industry sales have been running at the worst levels in nearly three decades through the first half of the year, but GM said that it expects a modest recovery in 2010. <br /><br />GM said its global first-half sales, which include brands the firm is trimming from its lineup &ndash; including Hummer and Saab &ndash; fell 21.8 per cent to 3.55m vehicles, while sales in the second quarter fell 15.4 per cent to 1.94m vehicles.<br /><br />Sales in North America fell 39.5 per cent in the first half of the year. GM Europe fell 24.4 per cent and Latin America, Africa and the Middle East fell 18.3 per cent. The Asia-Pacific region posted 21.5 per cent sales growth in the first half of the year with a strong performance in China, GM said.<br /><br />GM emerged from bankruptcy protection on 10 July, concluding a 40-day stay in Chapter 11 with a sale of its key operations to a new company majority-owned by the US Treasury.<br /><br />The long run up to bankruptcy and through court protection did have an impact on sales, but this was not as drastic as had been feared, GM executives said.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like playing with one hand tied behind your back the last nine or 10 months,&rdquo; GM sales analyst Mike DiGiovanni said. &ldquo;It could have been a lot more difficult situation than it turned out.&rdquo;