UPDATE 2-Brazil steelmaker CSN hopes strong dollar will double U.S. sales

jueves 12 de marzo de 2015 13:31 GYT

(Adds quotes from executives, forward-looking statements)

By Reese Ewing

SAO PAULO, March 12 (Reuters) - Brazilian steelmaker Cia Siderurgica Nacional SA expects to double its sales on the U.S. market in 2015 to 600,000 tonnes with the help of a stronger dollar, the company's head of sales said on Thursday.

If U.S. sales reach that level, they would account for around 10 percent of the company's total steel sales in 2015, projected at 6.2 million tonnes, Luis Martinez said on an earnings call with analysts.

Brazil's currency, the real, has weakened nearly 17 percent against the dollar so far in 2015 and is trading near 11-year lows.

"We see the U.S. market as an opportunity," said Martinez. "We want to sell in dollars at this exchange rate."

Other Brazilian steelmakers are also eyeing international markets to make up for weak demand at home. Local steelmaker Gerdau said recently that its steel exports grew 31 percent in the fourth quarter due to the strong dollar.

Roughly 70 percent of CSN's projected steel sales in 2015 are expected to go to the Brazilian market, but demand remains weak as the local auto industry sputters and economic growth stagnates.

CSN executives said they foresee domestic demand for steel recovering only in the second half of this year.   Continuación...