Strength in the Spanish housing market as well as in public contracting will result in a new record in cement production and consumption this year, the cement producers’ association said on Wednesday. Prospects for next year are also good, although production and consumption will likely reach similar levels to 2004. "We will end 2004 with annual consumption of around 48 million tonnes (four percent more than in 2003) ... We see the future as positive. (2005) could be a similar year to 2004," said Manuel Melgar, chairman of cement association Oficemen. He said the group had not detected a slowdown in public contracting, something other sector experts had pointed to.
Production would also continue growing above four percent to more than 46 million tonnes, making Spain the biggest producer and consumer of cement in Europe for the seventh year running. Oficemen also highlighted the strength of the residential building sector, despite expectations of a slowdown for some years now. Most sector analysts expect 2004 to have seen 700,000 housing starts.