BRUSSELS, July 19 (Reuters) - European steel demand will fall by more than previously estimated this year due to a very weak first quarter and return to modest growth only in 2014, steel industry body Eurofer said on Friday.
Eurofer in a quarterly outlook, titled 'First glimmers of hope?', said that economic indicators meant the likelihood of a near-term stabilisation of the EU economy had increased.
However, a stronger than usual seasonal slowdown had occurred in the first quarter due to a harsh winter, depressing domestic demand and weakening exports.
The weak quarter, and its knock-on effects later in the year, meant that apparent steel consumption, which takes into account changes in stock levels, would fall 3.1 percent this year and only return to growth in the first quarter of 2014.
In its previous quarterly outlook published in May, Eurofer had seen growth returning in the fourth quarter and a full-year drop of 2.0 percent. Growth next year would be 1.8 percent, lower than the 3.2 percent it had previously forecast.
Consumption fell by 10.0 percent in 2012.
The industry body said poor access to credit continued to cap investment, but loose central bank monetary policies, improved balance sheets and reduced economic uncertainty should make banks more ready to lend in the rest of 2013 and in 2014.
Eurofer said it saw global economic growth accelerating from mid-2013, causing a mild rebound in export demand. Investment and private consumption should rise next year.
Real steel consumption, reflecting end-user demand, fell 5.1 percent last year, with a further drop of 4.4 percent seen this year and a 0.6 percent rise in 2014.
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Keiron Henderson) Keywords: STEEL EUROPE/EUROFER
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