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Weak Europe, U.S. weighs on Volvo February shipments

A logo is pictured on the Volvo booth during the second media day of the 82nd Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 7, 2012.
A logo is pictured on the Volvo booth during the second media day of the 82nd Geneva Auto Show at the Palexpo Arena in Geneva March 7, 2012.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - World number two truck maker Volvo said on Wednesday that shipments of its trucks fell 26 percent year-on-year in February as lingering weakness in Europe and North America offset stronger demand in Latin America.

Heavy-duty makers have faced tougher times in recent quarters as the deep economic downturn in Europe and sluggish activity in North America has weighed heavily on the highly cyclical demand for commercial vehicles.

Volvo, which sells trucks under the Renault, Mack, UD Trucks and Eicher brands as well as its own name, said deliveries in its biggest market, Europe, were down 19 percent while they tumbled 46 percent in North America.

"The decrease was driven in part by the ongoing realignment of production to current industry demand that began in the fourth quarter of 2012," the company said of the steep fall in shipments of Volvo trucks in North America.

Shipments were down 24 percent in Asia but rose 10 percent in South America, where government incentives in Brazil, the region's biggest economy, has fuelled a surge in demand in recent months.

Volvo, which slashed inventories while idling shifts at its plants late last year, said in February it expected market conditions to gradually improve through the course of 2013 as global economic growth gained traction.

The company, which this year said it would dethrone German Daimler as the world's top heavy trucks maker once a joint venture in China was finalized, has forecast flat 2013 markets in Europe and North America but firm growth in Brazil.

(Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Johannes Hellstrom; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)

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