SOFIA, May 10 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's industrial sales increased 18.8 percent on a monthly basis in March after rising 1.2 percent in February, mainly due to improved sales of chemicals and cigarettes, the statistics office said on Monday. Industrial sales rose 8.8 percent on an annual basis in March, after a 5.2 percent drop a month earlier, statistics data showed. The emerging economy contracted 5 percent last year due to the global downturn but the government expects the Balkan country to return to growth of 0.3 percent this year as exports to the European Union pick up. Processing industry sales increased 28.5 percent in March on a monthly basis, mining industry sales were up 15.1 percent, while gas, electricity and water distribution sales fell 2.3 percent. INDUSTRIAL SALES MARCH/10 FEB/10 (revised) MARCH/09 m/m pct change +18.8 +1.2 +3.7 y/y pct change +8.8 -5.2 -20.0 (Reporting by Irina Ivanova; editing by Jason Webb) Keywords: BULGARIA SALES/ (firstname.lastname@example.org; +359-2-939-97-36; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2010. All rights reserved.
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