BEIJING ( TheStreet) -- The World Steel Association said Monday that steel consumption in the industrialized world won't be as weak as it thought. In its twice-annual report, the trade group said it now believes that global steel use will decline by 8.6% in 2009 compared with a year ago. Back in April, the association had predicted a 14.5% drop. (The numbers refer to what Worldsteel, as the group is known, calls "apparent steel use," or the metal that's delivered to buyers directly from foundries. "Real steel use," by contrast, takes into account steel drawn down from existing inventory stockpiles.) "The improvement is largely due to the exceptionally strong growth in steel demand in China," the report said. The group also predicted that worldwide demand for steel will grow by 9.2% in 2010, which would put the globe's steel consumption back on equal footing with 2008 levels. In a statement, the chairman of the association's economics committee, Daniel Novegil, said, "The global recovery is stronger than we predicted in April." Once again, though, the prime mover is China. The group said that, according to its data, China's demand for steel will likely grow by 19% in 2009 and 5% in 2010. Recovery in North America will come more slowly, according to the report, with a demand decline of 35.8% in 2009 before a rebound of 17% in 2010. Steel stocks were mixed Monday morning. Shares of U.S. Steel ( X) slipped 1.3% to $43.27, while Korean steelmaker Posco ( PKX) saw its New York-listed issues fall 1% to $106.20.
Elsewhere, though, stocks were modestly in the green Monday morning. Arcelor Mittal's ( MT) shares gained 1.6% in New York trading; Nucor ( NUE) shares added 0.4%; Steel Dynamics ( STLD) gained 1.5%, and AK Steel ( AKS) rose 0.3%. -- Written by Scott Eden in New York Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.