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EU demand for construction steel still well below pre-crisis levels - ArcelorMittal

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Europe's demand for construction steel is down nearly 20 per cent versus its pre-financial crisis peak, with the market still battling excess capacity, ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, said on Tuesday.

[PARIS] Europe's demand for construction steel is down nearly 20 per cent versus its pre-financial crisis peak, with the market still battling excess capacity, ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, said on Tuesday.

EU steel prices have recovered sharply since hitting decade lows in late 2015, but investors are growing concerned that the sector will struggle if China's economy slows further as the trade dispute between the United States and China drags on.

China produces and consumes half the world's steel, a global industry seen as strategic for growth and national security.

"We have huge overcapacity in long (construction) steel in Europe," Augustine Kochuparampil, chief executive of ArcelorMittal Europe, Long Products, told reporters at a briefing in Paris.

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European mills used 65 per cent of their capacity in construction steel last year, Mr Kochuparampil said. In 2007 they used 80 per cent - a level investors say indicates a healthy industry where mills have pricing power.

EU demand for long, or construction steel, is forecast at 57 million tonnes this year versus 69 million tonnes in 2008, Mr Kochuparampil said.

Owned by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, ArcelorMittal has operations in more than 60 countries and produced 97.03 million tonnes of steel in 2017, equivalent to 6 per cent of total world output.

REUTERS