Economic prosperity led to record US car sales in 1999, industry reports indicated. Sales shot up 9 percent, as consumers bought 16.9 million new passenger cars, minivans, sport utility vehicles, and pickups. Every major automaker enjoyed higher sales than in 1998. Compacts made by Asian manufacturers Kia and Hyundai sold well as did luxury models by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and other high-end makers. Despite the overall sales upswing, General Motors' market share dipped below 30 percent for the first time in a strike-free year since the 1920s.
Led by high-tech stocks, the decline in overseas sharetrading, extended into a second straight day despite the rebound on Wall Street Wednesday. The Nikkei index in Tokyo followed up Wednesday's 2.42 percent drop by closing down another 2 percent yesterday. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index fell 4.4 percent on the heels of the 1,000-point, 7.2 percent dive Wednesday - the second-steepest in its history. Indexes also were lower in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Only Taiwan, which gained 1.9 percent in the two days of trading, and the Manila exchange bucked the trend.
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