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Outlook grim for Europe's steel sector

EUROPEAN steel makers said yesterday that one in six workers had lost their jobs or were working shorter hours due to a collapse in the demand for steel.

Eurofer - a group representing ArcelorMittal SA, Corus and ThyssenKrupp AG - said some 72,000 jobs, or 17 percent, of the European Union's 440,000-strong steel workforce had been hit by the downturn.

It is asking EU governments to boost financing for steel customers - car makers and the construction industry - by giving more loans, guarantees and credit insurance. The car industry says it needs some 40 billion euros (US$54.6 billion) in loans because the financial crisis has raised the cost of borrowing while slowing sales.

Eurofer said average orders had fallen 60 percent since the last three months of 2008, and expects consumption to fall by 30 percent in the first quarter of this year.


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