Eurofer’s Q3-2011 economic and steel market outlook sees the EU economy continuing its course of an unspectacular but steady recovery in 2011 and 2012.

Evidence has become stronger of economic growth becoming more balanced owing to an investment-driven rebound in domestic demand.

Manufacturing will remain the sector that benefits the most in this phase of the upswing, providing positive spin-off effects to other sectors as well.

Eurofer director-general Gordon Moffat: “Most steel-using sectors have outperformed expectations in the first quarter. A slowdown later this year seems plausible, as suggested by forward-looking indicators. We also foresee a slight improvement in the construction sector”.

Apparent steel consumption in the EU grew by almost 16% y-o-y in the first quarter, driven by the strength in real consumption and some stock building.

In addition to robust levels of domestic deliveries the first quarter saw also a significant rise in third country imports; particularly flat product imports rose sharply. Q2-2011 data signal a moderation in domestic deliveries from EU mills.

Imports, however, appear to have kept a rather high level in April. Moreover, import licenses in May have neared the peak levels registered in June-July 2008 which points to the probability of even higher imports having entered the EU in recent months.

Mr Moffat added: “Demand-side fundamentals of the EU steel market are looking rather positive: real consumption growth is the key driver and stocks in the distribution chain are seen remaining balanced with demand.

"This could change however, should third country imports rise even faster or remain longer than expected at elevated levels. The strong euro and the rebound in demand have increased the attractiveness of the EU market for exporters. Supply-demand imbalances building up elsewhere would exacerbate this situation.”

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