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Lorry orders hit the brakes at Volvo Group

media Sales and profits both rose in the first quarter for Volvo AFP/File

Lorry manufacturer Volvo Group said Wednesday that orders for its trucks fell by over a third in the first quarter although both sales and profits shot higher.

With transportation a key element of the real economy, the performance of the Swedish-based firm that also manufacturers Mack and Renault trucks can indicate trouble down the road.

While new orders fell by 36 percent, primarily due to North America, the reason has more to do with production constraints rather than demand.

"As expected, order intake in the region has remained low as our order books are close to full for 2019," chief executive Martin Lundstedt said in a statement.

"However, freight volumes and service demand in North America have remained solid." he added.

Last year the company experienced supply chain problems in North America, which limited its ability to respond to customer demand for latest models.

Lorry orders in Europe were also down in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2018, but Volvo said they remained at a good level.

Overall, net sales increased by 20 percent to 107.2 billion Swedish kronor ($11.4 billion, 10.2 billion euros).

Sales of buses and construction equipment also increased, as did sales of services.

Net profit nearly doubled to 10.8 billion kronor.

"After a period with good markets, a strong service business and high volume flexibility are key for us to be more resilient to changes in the business environment," said Lundstedt.

Shares in Volvo rose by 2.5 percent in morning trading on the Stockholm stock exchange, which was up 0.4 percent overall.

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