Arcelor sees no market, price revival in 2003-paper

PARIS, June 30 (Reuters) - European steel giant Arcelor is not optimistic it will see a recovery in its markets this year and is not holding its breath for a rise in the price of steel.

"We have seen no signs allowing us to anticipate a recovery in investment in 2003," Arcelor chief Guy Dolle said in an interview with Les Echos daily and released ahead of publication on Tuesday.

Arcelor's performance in the automobile sector improved in both price and volume terms in the first half compared with a year ago, he said, despite carmakers' records showing a reduction in new car registrations.

But he added that he feared carmakers were simply building up inventories.

"Everything will depend on (what happens in) September with the risk, due to euro appreciation, of an influx of tonnes of steel with low added value that will weigh on prices," he said.

Dolle said it took five to six quarters of continued growth in demand for steel prices to reach 100 euros a tonne, while it took only two months for them to plunge to 50-60 euros.

"I therefore hardly expect any new (price) rises this year," he said.

Dolle also said Arcelor had not managed so far to find a U.S. industrial partner for its J&L inox subsidiary in the United States.

"We are leaning towards a solution that would see the steelworks closed and the factory refocused on laminating half-finished products imported from Brazil or Europe," he said.