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BRUSSELS, May 11 (Reuters) - Belgian steel wire maker Bekaert on Wednesday posted quarterly sales below expectations because of lower prices for wire rods and a weak performance in Latin America.
Consolidated sales in Latin America fell 12 percent, as Bekaert shut down its operations in Venezuela and faced a sharply lower currency in Brazil. The group added that the business climate also weakened in Peru and Ecuador.
For the company as a whole, consolidated sales fell 2 percent in the first quarter to 884 million euros ($1.01 billion), below the 898 million expected in a Reuters poll of four analysts.
The group kept its outlook of outperforming the market and taking a significant step towards a 7 percent operating profit (REBIT) margin in 2016.
It added that while it would even go beyond the 7 percent target in the first half of the year, the second half would be weaker because it expected tire markets to slow down later in 2016. ($1 = 0.8787 euros) (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; Editing by Richard Pullin)