The outlook for steel demand in Western Europe is deteriorating. At the start of the year there had been hopes that economic growth might reach 2 percent in the Euro-zone nations. Recently published figures show that it was only 1.6 percent in the first quarter. In some countries – including the largest steel consumers Germany and Italy – it is weaker still and the outlook is negative.

In a global market, which is doing little to favour European manufacturing industry, the continuing strength of the Euro is eroding competitiveness. Higher costs for raw materials and energy are adding to the difficulties of steel-using manufacturers.

The domestic EU-15 economy is not much better. There is no sign of an increase in private capital investment nor of industrial output. Top steelmaker, Arcelor, has forecast growth in industrial production of no more than 1.4 percent this year.

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