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OTTAWA, Ont. — Statistics Canada says sales of new vehicles in Canada fell 0.4 per cent in January compared with December.

A total of 130,484 vehicles were sold in January, 579 less than in December, the government agency says. It adds that both passenger cars and trucks contributed to this decline.

It notes that preliminary figures from the auto industry show fewer new motor vehicles sold in February, primarily because of lower sales of passenger cars.

In January, 71,234 new passenger cars were sold, 0.6 per cent less than in December. This decline is entirely due to weaker sales of North American-built passenger cars. Sales of those cars fell 3.2 per cent, while sales of overseas-built passenger cars jumped 7.9 per cent.

New passenger car sales have been moving downward since the fall of 2000, following a period of increases that lasted for about six months, Statistics Canada points out.

As for trucks, a total of 59,250 units were sold in January, 0.3 per cent less than in December, it explains. This decrease followed gains of three per cent in December, of three per cent, and of 7.4 per cent in November.

Despite these rises, truck sales have been declining since the summer of 2000, following a period of growth that had begun that spring. Before then, truck sales had been stable since mid-1999, after strong gains in the first half of that year.

Trucks include minivans, sport-utility vehicles, and light and heavy trucks, vans and buses.

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