Brazil's steel industryraised its forecast for sales growth in the red-hot domestic market this yearto over 13 percent from 10.7 percent, lowering export expectations and raisingimport projections.

The Brazilian SteelInstitute industry group said on Thursday domestic steel sales should reach23.2 million tonnes this year, the increase fueled by the booming car-makingand construction industries.

It had previously expectedimports to fall 4.1 percent from 2007 levels. But the revised forecast putsimports at 1.8 million tonnes, 11.5 percent higher than last year.

The group said exportsshould grow 15.9 percent to 11.9 million tonnes and not 17.9 percent asforecast in January.

The IBS left unchanged itsoutput forecast for this year of 37.6 million tonnes, 11.4 percent higher thanin 2007. Output rose about 10 percent in 2007 from a year earlier.

Brazil's economic growth, rising incomes and growinglong-term financing have spurred demand for housing and durable goods likeautomobiles and home appliances. Latin America's largest country is also the world's fifth-biggestnet steel exporter, according to IBS.

Longer-term projectionspoint to steel consumption nearly doubling to 40 million tonnes by 2016 from 22million tonnes in 2007, the IBS said.

Installed capacity isexpected to reach 80.6 million tonnes in 2015, up from 41 million tonnes lastyear. (Reporting by Denise Luna, writing by Andrei Khalip; editing by JimMarshall)

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