OSLO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - Norwegian aluminium maker Norsk Hydro maintained its outlook for primary aluminium demand this year, even as rival Alcoa released a bullish projection a day earlier, its top executive said on Wednesday.
"We haven't changed our position for the future growth of aluminium," Chief Executive Richard Brandtzaeg told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference.
The company said it estimates the market outside China could grow 2-4 percent this year after last year's 2 percent rise as demand recovers, producers reduce capacity, and bloated stock levels are reduced.
U.S. rival Alcoa, which is usually more bullish on market prospects than Hydro, said on Tuesday it was cautiously optimistic demand for the metal will continue to grow in 2013, and estimated growth at 7 percent.
"Of course the aluminium industry in general has been in a tough situation and there have been weak aluminium prices, but we also see that, as growth continues and there is less capacity coming on stream, I'm cautiously optimistic about the medium term," Brandtzaeg said.
"We see that the aluminium demand in the U.S is growing, there is a positive development, contrary to what we see in Europe," he added.
He said that the market in southern Europe had continued to be weak at the start of the year.
"We have no reason to say that the development has turned, but it is also too soon to say whether 2013 will be better or worse than 2012," Brandtzaeg said.
Hydro shares rose 0.8 percent on the Oslo bourse on Wednesday, ahead of the benchmark's 0.4 percent rise.