Japanese carmakers Honda <7267.T> and Nissan <7201.T> unexpectedly clung to profits in the first quarter and either raised or stuck to their full-year forecasts, while France's Peugeot swung to a loss.

Peugeot said on Wednesday that Europe's car market would not start recovering until late 2010.

While analysts had expected operating losses in the April-June quarter for Honda and Nissan, Japan's number two and three automakers, they both managed to stay in the black, despite big falls from a year earlier.

Honda turned a profit of 25.2 billion yen ($267 million), down 88 percent as car sales tumbled, and raised its full-year forecast as it said it expected sales to improve.

Nissan, held 44 percent by France's Renault , posted a similar fall of 86 percent to a profit of 11.6 billion yen, as cost cuts mitigated the effects of falling sales and a stronger yen.

Despite some bright signs on the sales front -- particularly strong growth in China -- Nissan said it did not see a convincing recovery in global car demand, and repeated its full-year forecast of an operating loss of 100 billion yen.

PSA Peugeot Citroen was also downbeat about recovery prospects, saying it expected the European market to shrink by about 12 percent in 2009, with a 7 percent drop in the second half.

It swung to a recurring operating loss of 826 million euros ($1.17 billion) from a profit of 1.115 billion euros in the same period a year ago, with both its sales and profit falling short of analysts' expectations.

On the bright side, the company said it expected to increase its market share above 14 percent in Europe in the second half, and Morgan Stanley analysts said the group's net financial position was significantly better than expected.

All of which helped PSA shares to climb more than 6 percent, while Honda's closed up 1.1 percent. Nissan shares had closed up 0.8 percent before its results were released.

Elsewhere, UK-based car dealer Inchcape beat analysts' forecasts with a H1 underlying profit of 65.4 million pounds, 58 percent lower year-on-year.

(Editing by Will Waterman)

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