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Ford European sales up 9.2 percent in January on German, UK demand

A woman has a drink as she walks past a logo of carmaker Ford at the entrance to a media event for the launch of a concept car in Sydney August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

BERLIN (Reuters) - Ford (NYS:F) increased European car sales by 9.2 percent in January, the eighth straight monthly gain, benefiting from strong demand in the region's top markets Germany and the UK.

Deliveries in the so-called Euro-20 markets, including all major countries plus the Baltic states, increased to 80,800 autos from 74,000 a year earlier, Ford Europe said on Friday.

The 9.2 percent gain, powered by demand for models such as the Kuga SUV and the Fiesta compact, is about twice the size of overall market growth in that region, Ford said.

Ford's loss-making European division is counting on new models and a stabilizing market to increase sales this year, after shrinking demand inflicted a 2.1 percent drop in 2013 deliveries.

"We've launched 11 new vehicles over the past 15 months, and we'll launch more than 10 additional new vehicles in 2014 alone," Ford Europe sales chief Roelant de Waard said.

The U.S. carmaker's sales in Germany surged 38 percent to 16,800 vehicles while the UK, Ford's biggest market in the region, posted an 11 percent gain to 26,800.

Ford has closed two UK production sites and will shutter a major assembly plant in Genk, Belgium, this year, eliminating about 6,200 jobs in total.

The company's fourth-quarter 2013 European loss of $571 million, though smaller than in the previous year, was still wider than analysts had expected.

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Victoria Bryan)