French auto group Renault reported on Thursday a first-half net loss of 2.71 billion euros (3.8 billion dollars) as sales slumped 23.7 percent to 15.99 billion euros but said the outlook was improving.
In first half 2008, the company reported a net profit of 1.58 billion euros.
Despite the loss, Renault, which controls the Japanese automaker Nissan Motor, said it maintained its 2009 forecasts, expecting some parts of the market to recover from the global economic slump, which has rocked the industry.
Renault revised upwards its forecast for industry sales this year to 57 million vehicle, representing a fall of 12 percent from 2008 compared with its previous estimate of a downturn of 15 percent.
In Europe, the market "should improve over the second half of the year to show a fall of eight percent," compared with a drop of 13.7 percent in the first six months.
Renault said there had been a distinct improvement between the first three months of the year, when sales were down 30.8 percent, and the second quarter to June when they fell 16.9 percent.
The first half loss was largely attributable to losses at associate companies, with Nissan in the red for 1.22 billion euros, AB Volvo 196 million euros and Russia's Autovaz 182 million euros.
"Renault is holding up" against the slump, chief executive Carlos Ghosn said in a statement.