By Alex MacDonald
LONDON--ArcelorMittal (MT), the world's largest steelmaker by volume, lowered its global apparent steel demand forecast due slower demand growth in China and shrinking demand in the European Union where the sovereign debt crisis continues to take its toll on the regional economy and consumer sentiment.
The Luxembourg-based steelmaker expects global apparent steel demand to rise 3.5% to 4% in 2012 compared with its previous forecast in May for a 4% to 4.5% rise.
China, the world's largest steel producer and consumer, is forecast to see its apparent steel demand grow 4.5% to 5% in 2012 compared with previous expectations for 5% demand growth.
Apparent steel demand in the EU bloc of 27 member states is forecast to drop between 3% and 5% in 2012 compared to previous expectations for a 1% to 2% decline.
The only bright spot is Mexico, Canada and the U.S. which comprise the North American Free Trade Agreement region. ArcelorMittal expects apparent steel demand in the NAFTA region to rise 7% to 8% in 2012 compared with previous expectations of 6.5% to 7% growth.
ArcelorMittal, which accounts for some 6% of the world's steel production, said that Chinese industrial output bottomed out in the second quarter and steel stocks are stabilizing.
It noted that there are "encouraging signs in U.S. residential construction, but European construction remains depressed."
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