Japanese flat glass manufacturer Nippon Sheet Glass (NSG) said its architectural glass business had improved in Japan and USA but was still slow in Europe.

It said that markets that had shown signs of recovery last year continued to improve, but its main European markets remain depressed.

In its Quarter 1 fiscal 2014 financial results it said the prospects for architectural markets in Japan remained positive with an increase in new housing starts from the previous year.

But it warned this would take some time to be translated into an increase in demand for glass products.

In Europe, which represents 39% of the group’s architectural sales, economic difficulties continued to depress construction and refurbishment activity.

In North America, which represents 10% of architectural sales, revenues and profit improved compared to the previous year mainly due to increases in private residential construction.

It added that in Europe, Automotive Original Equipment (OE) markets continue to be challenging, with the UK being the only market to show signs of growth. Light vehicle sales in the European Union are now at their lowest levels for 20 years.

It forecast that for the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year, activity in European markets would continue to be at a low level, although it does not anticipate a further decline in volumes.

In Japan, markets are expected to benefit from improved business sentiment, resulting from a weakening currency and growth enhancing government policies.

Automotive volumes are also expected to improve from increased exports by OE customers.