Specialty steel and tool maker Sandvik (SAND.ST) does not expect demand to improve in the first quarter, one of the group's top executives told Reuters on Wednesday.

January in general looks like December -- the pace is very slow, Sandvik Chief Financial Officer Per Nordberg told Reuters after the company issued its fourth-quarter results.

It is far too soon to say what will happen in February and March, but it is clear the first quarter will not be better than the fourth quarter.

Earlier on Wednesday the company reported a bigger-than expected decline in fourth-quarter pretax earnings, and an 18-percent fall in order bookings.

(Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; writing by Victoria Klesty)

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