Praxair, Inc., Danbury, CT, reported sales in the first quarter 2007 rose 8% from the prior-year quarter, excluding the effect of lower natural gas prices passed through in hydrogen prices. Profit rose 18%.   ; Higher overall pricing and volumes across all major end markets contributed to the increase.   ; In North America, first-quarter sales reached $1,205 million, 5% above the prior-year quarter excluding the effect of lower natural gas prices passed through in hydrogen prices. Sales growth came primarily from energy and general manufacturing markets, where demand continues to be strong for new gases applications.   ; In Europe, sales in the quarter of $330 million grew 23%, and increased 14% excluding currency effects. Underlying sales growth reflects increased business activity in Spain, Italy, and Germany, and higher pricing levels which recouped higher power costs.   ; In South America, first-quarter sales of $348 million grew 10% from the prior-year quarter, and 7% excluding currency effects.   ; Sales in Asia grew 14% from the 2006 first quarter to $167 million. Sales to electronics and metals markets contributed to the strong sales growth.   ; Praxair Surface Technologies'sales in the quarter were $125 million, up 9% from the prior-year quarter, excluding the effects of a business divestiture and currency. Strong coatings demand from aerospace, energy, and power markets and higher pricing drove higher sales.   ; Praxair is an industrial gases company with 2006 sales of $8.3 billion.