LONDON (April 6)—Economist Intelligence Unit is sticking by earlier forecasts of natural rubber shortages, but says that the declining global economy will put off any recovery in prices for at least a year. Three months ago, the group predicted a sharp recovery in NR prices starting mid-2001. "Although NR market fundamentals are still healthy, sentiment has turned increasingly bearish, postponing a recovery in prices," London-based EIU said in its latest world commodity forecasts for industrial raw materials. EIU estimates put global NR consumption for 2000 at around 7.25 million metric tons, 8.5 percent above the previous year´s total. But with lower economic growth expected in North America, Japan and elsewhere, growth is likely to struggle around the 3-percent mark, EIU said.