Asia

Chinese auto sales weaken sharply in March after tax rise

China's auto sales growth weakened sharply in March, with demand for SUVs decelerating and sales of sedans contracting compared with a year earlier.

An industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, said Tuesday sales of cars, minivans and SUVs rose 1.7 percent from a year earlier, down from the 6.3 percent growth in the first two months of the year.

Auto demand was forecast to cool after Beijing raised a sales tax on Jan. 1 but the March decline was unexpectedly severe. Analysts have said they expect sales growth in mid-single digits this year, down from double digits.