Friday, January 05, 2007

Downgrade by Credit Suisse hits steel shares

Shares of Arcelor Mittal, ThyssenKrupp and Acerinox slid Wednesday after Credit Suisse Group downgraded the steel industry, saying that flagging demand and more Asian imports might lead to lower profits in the United States and Europe.

Arcelor Mittal, the world's biggest steel maker, declined €1.36, or more than 4 percent, to €31.49, or $41.44, its steepest drop since July.

ThyssenKrupp, the largest steel maker in Germany, fell 73 cents, or 2 percent, to €35.96. Acerinox, which makes stainless steel, lost 60 cents, or 2.6 percent, to €22.48.

Credit Suisse analysts including Michael Shillaker in London cut steel stocks to "underweight" from "market weight," suggesting that holdings of the shares should be smaller than their weighting in benchmarks.

"Steel markets are getting tough in the U.S., and problems look about to arise in Europe," the analysts wrote. "Even with production cuts, imports are still high," and economic data suggest "weaker real demand." The European steel market is likely to start experiencing difficulties in three to six months, they said.

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