Global car sales slowdown drags down Mercedes-Benz maker

German carmaker Daimler endured a weak start to the year, echoing trouble at other major manufacturers, as a global economic slowdown weighed on sales, particularly in the big Chinese market.

The company said Friday that vehicle sales fell 4% to 773 800 units, with demand for its signature Mercedes-Benz luxury cars down slightly in almost all regions. The company noted that the overall market for cars was being weighed down by China, which saw a double-digit percentage drop in sales in the first quarter.

Daimler's net income fell to €2.1-billion ($2.3-billion) in the first quarter from €2.3-billion euros during the same period a year earlier, while revenue dipped to €39.7-billion from €39.8-billion.

The company said that besides a fall in demand, there were problems with high inventories and bottlenecks in the supply chain.

"We cannot and will not be satisfied with this-as expected- moderate start to the year," said Chairman Dieter Zetsche.

Daimler maintained its earnings outlook for the year despite warning that the world economy is likely to continue to slow.

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