UPDATE 1-China May vehicle sales rise 9.6 pct from a year ago- industry association

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BEIJING, June 11 (Reuters) - Chinese automobile sales in May rose 9.6 percent from a year earlier to 2.29 million vehicles, an industry association said on Monday, with sales continuing to gain momentum.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said overall sales during the first five months of the year increased 5.7 percent from the same period a year ago to 11.8 million vehicles.

Last month's rise follows an 11.5 percent increase in April and 4.7 percent growth in March.

Auto sales in China, the world's biggest vehicle market, have been rebounding steadily since February when sales volume fell 11.1 percent.

The industry association has predicted 3 percent market growth this year, in line with 2017 but significantly below the steep 13.7 percent gain in 2016.

CAAM said sales of so-called new energy vehicles jumped 125.6 percent in May from a year earlier to 102,000 vehicles.

That took sales of new energy vehicles, essentially all-electric battery cars and plug-in electric hybrids, to 328,000 vehicles for the January-May period, up 141.6 percent from the same period a year ago. (Reporting By Lusha Zhang and Norihiko Shirouzu in Beijing; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Amrutha Gayathri)