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European Q1 car registrations down 10 percent as unemployment and gas prices remain high

Europe's automakers' association says new car registrations slid 10 percent in the first quarter of 2013, with all but three European Union countries posting declines.

ACEA on Wednesday said new car registrations for the first three months of 2013 totaled 2.9 million, down from 3.3 million in 2012.

The European debt crisis has sapped consumer spending and March marked the 18th straight month of declining auto sales as unemployment and gas prices remain high.

Among Europe's major markets, only the U.K. posted growth in the quarter, up 7.4 percent to 605,000 vehicles. Otherwise, all major markets saw double-digit contractions: down 11.5 percent in Spain, 13 percent in Italy, 14.6 percent in France and 13 percent in Europe's strongest economy, Germany.

The smaller car markets of Estonia and Portugal also grew.

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