ArcelorMittal says demand 'positive' as earnings rise
Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, posted a 28.9% increase in fourth-quarter earnings compared with the same period of 2016 and said the "demand environment remains positive".
The company said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were $2.1 billion (€1.7 billion) in the last three months of 2017.
That compares with $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016.
Full-year EBITDA was $8.4 billion compared with $6.3 billion in 2016.
In a statement, chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said: "The combination of improving market fundamentals and delivery against our strategic objectives contributed to a successful year.
"The market environment remains supportive, but the industry must continue to address the twin challenges of overcapacity and unfair trade."
The European Commission said in August that China, the world's biggest steel maker, was selling products at artificially low prices, a practice known as dumping.
"The market environment remains supportive, but the industry must continue to address the twin challenges of overcapacity and unfair trade."Lakshmi Mittal
It responded by imposing a 28.5% tax on Chinese corrosion-resistant steel.
The move followed an investigation by the Commission that began in December 2016 following a complaint submitted by Europe's steel industry.
ArcelorMittal said apparent steel consumption was expected to grow by 1.5-2.5% this year, building on a 3.2% increase in 2017.
When China, the world's biggest steel user, is excluded, consumption is set to increase by 3-4% this year, ArcelorMittal said.
It said China's steel consumption would be similar to 2017, as weakness in its real estate sector would be offset by infrastructure projects and the automotive industry.
The company expects its cash needs to be about $5.6 billion in 2018, when working capital investments are excluded.
That is up from $4.4 billion in 2017.
ArcelorMittal produced 22.7 million tonnes of crude steel in the fourth quarter, up from 21.8 million tonnes in the same period of 2016.
It shipped 21 million tonnes, up from 20 million tonnes.