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GM First-Quarter Sales Grow, But Market Share Slips

General Motors' global sales rose 3% in the first quarter, but its market share fell slightly as declines in North America offset strong demand in emerging markets, the automaker said on Thursday.

GM, expected to be challenged for the top spot in global sales by Japanese rival Toyota Motor this year, said global sales rose to a record 2.3 million vehicles in the quarter.

Its market share, however, slipped to 13% from 13.1% a year earlier.

At 1.36 million vehicles, first-quarter sales outside the United States accounted for about 60% of GM's total sales, growing at close to 10%, the company said.

Sales in the Asia-Pacific region rose more than 20%, including a 25% increase in China alone.

Sales in Europe grew 6%, led by GM's Cadillac, Corvette, Hummer, Saab and Chevrolet brands.

But GM's sales continued to slide in its home market, with North American sales down 6%.

GM, which lost more than $12 billion in 2005 and more than $3 billion in 2006, is in the middle of a sweeping restructuring that includes slashing more than 34,000 jobs and closing 12 plants in North America.

Chief Executive Rick Wagoner has said he expects overseas sales to continue to surpass domestic demand in coming years, even as the automaker tries to reverse a slide in sales and market share in the United States.

GM ended the first quarter with 22.5% of the North American market, down from 23.6% a year earlier.

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