Car maker Nissan saw earnings slip into reverse in the third quarter despite notching up strong sales in the US, China and Europe.

The Japanese group - which recently warned that it would review its Sunderland car plant after a Brexit deal - posted weaker-than-expected earnings of €1.36 million for the three months to December 31, down from €1.6 million a year earlier.

Nissan sold 1.09 million vehicles worldwide during the quarter, up from 1.02 million a year ago, and said it was on track for a 3.3 per cent rise over its full year, to 5.6 million.

But earnings were weighed on by higher marketing and selling costs, as well as a currency hit.

The car giant has been in the spotlight after boss Carlos Ghosn said last month that it would review the competitiveness of its car plant in Sunderland once the final outcome of Brexit negotiations becomes clear.

Nissan announced in October that it was investing in production of new Qashqai and X-Trail models at Sunderland after receiving Government assurances that EU withdrawal would not affect the plant's competitiveness.

It has denied a controversial so-called sweetheart deal with the Government to secure the future of the plant - which makes one in three of all cars manufactured in the UK - but has resisted calls to publish the "letter of comfort" sent by Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The group's figures for the nine months of its year so far show strong demand in the US, China and Europe offset "challenging conditions" in its domestic Japanese market.

In the US, it sold 1.16 million vehicles, up 4.2 per cent, while sales rose 8.2 per cent in China and lifted 5.5 per cent across the UK and Europe.

It said demand for the Qashqai SUV and X-Trail helped drive demand across Europe.

The group is forecasting a full-year operating profit of €5.9 billion on sales of €983 billion.

Nissan has also been under pressure earlier this week amid calls for a recall of its 4x4 pick-up truck over fears that they can snap in half.

Owners of Nissan Navaras have reported finding rust which can crack the chassis and more than 15,000 people have joined a Facebook group for drivers concerned about models registered between 2005 and 2011.

Nissan said at the time that it was aware of the issue in a "relatively small number" of previous generation D40 Navaras and has put measures in place to "quickly resolve the concerns of any customers".


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