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Global Biz

China’s auto sales down 5.8% in October

BEIJING (AP) — China’s auto sales fell 5.8% from a year earlier in October as demand for electric cars plunged, an industry group reported Monday, extending a painful squeeze in the global industry’s biggest market.

The Chinese auto market is on track to contract for second year, dragged down by weak demand in the face of cooling economic growth and a tariff war with Washington.

Drivers bought 1.9 million sedans, SUVs and minivans, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Sales growth has been in negative territory every month since June 2018.

Total vehicle sales, including trucks and buses, shrank 0.6% to 2.3 million.

Sales of electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles tumbled 45.6% to 75,000. Demand has been hurt by the end of government subsidies in mid-2019.

Beijing has spent billions of dollars promoting electrics sales. Regulators are shifting the burden to automakers by eliminating subsidies and imposing minimum sales quotas. That raises the cost to buyers.

The October figures were a small improvement over September’s 6.3% contraction and better than double-digit contractions in previous months.

Still, sales were off 11% in the first 10 months of 2019 compared with a year earlier.

China’s Jingye comes to the rescue of British Steel

LONDON (AP) — Chinese conglomerate Jingye has agreed to buy British Steel, in a rescue deal that potentially protects some 4,000 jobs and safeguards a strategic asset as Britain prepares to leave the European Union.

Exact financial terms were not immediately disclosed Monday, and it was not clear what incentives might have been offered by the British government to secure the solvency of the firm, which accounts for about a third of the country’s steel production. British Steel Ltd had been ordered into liquidation in May as it struggled with industry-wide troubles and chronic uncertainty around Brexit. The BBC reported earlier that an agreement in principle had been made for the $90 million purchase.

“Completion of the contract is conditional on a number of matters, including gaining the necessary regulatory approvals,” Britain’s Insolvency Service said in a statement announcing the deal. “The parties are working together to conclude a sale as soon as reasonably practicable.”

The acquisition includes the steelworks at Scunthorpe, U.K. mills and shares of FN Steel BV, British Steel France Rail SAS and TSP Engineering. The sale also includes British Steel’s Redcar Bulk Terminal Limited.