Electrolux has retained a flat to slightly lower demand outlook for Europe this year as the world’s second largest home appliance maker beat quarterly income forecasts on Wednesday. The Swedish company was more upbeat on North America, where it expects demand to stay flat or rise by up to 2 per cent in 2012. Makers of refrigerators, washing machines and vacuum cleaners have been squeezed by weak consumer confidence on both sides of the Atlantic and have expanded into faster growing emerging markets. They pushed through price increases last year to offset soaring raw materials costs, but 2012 is still looking challenging. “While we expect the trend going forward to shift in a more positive direction in the form of gradual improvements in prices and mix and lower costs, we do not anticipate that demand in mature markets will recover in the first half of 2012,” it said. Electrolux reported adjusted earnings before interest and tax of 943 million Swedish crowns ($139.98 million), better than an average forecast of 865 million in a Reuters poll of analysts and up from last year’s 696 million. Electrolux, for which mature markets account for about 65 per cent of sales, said it expected earnings to be better for the second quarter.