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Holcim expects downturn to ease in 2010


August 22, 2009
By Andy Bateman

August 22, 2009 – Holcim,
the world's second-largest cement maker said government stimulus packages in
the U.S. and Europe would boost the construction industry after the downturn in
the United States eased in the second quarter of 2010, Reuters reported  on Thursday.

Holcim cautioned it
still expects conditions in the United States,
the UK and Eastern
Europe to remain challenging as fewer houses go up, and said it
was raising its 2009 cost-cutting target to 600 million francs after targeting
375 million. The economic downturn has caused property prices to slump, choking
off growth in the construction industry, especially in industrialized markets.

Demand in emerging
markets like Asia, India, Latin America and the Middle East, was, however,
likely to offset the negative operating development in the mature markets,
Holcim said. "The recovery is likely to come in the course of 2010 or
2011. This applies to the North American, West European and East European
markets," Chief Executive Markus Akermann told reporters. "Growth
will continue in the developing markets. Asia
will be the locomotive of the world economy.”

Lafarge gave a bleak
outlook last month, cutting its 2009 forecast for the global cement market,
while Heidelberg Cement has said it expects its 2009 sales and operating profit
to fall.

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