U.S. Steel Narrows 4Q Loss

Company expects modest improvement in the first quarter.

United States Steel Corp. reported a lower fourth-quarter loss Jan. 25 as the company shed assets and reduced spending for facility repair and maintenance.

U.S. Steel reported a loss of $249 million, or $1.74 per share, compared with a $267 million, or $1.86 a share, in the year-earlier period. The company reported a third-quarter 2010 loss of $51 million, or 35 cents per diluted share.

For full-year 2010, U. S. Steel reported a net loss of $482 million, or $3.36 per diluted share, compared with a 2009 loss of $1.4 billion, or $10.42 per diluted share.

The improvements were partially offset by lower prices and shipments because of soft market conditions, said CEO John Surma.

The company expects a "modest improvement" in the first quarter, Surma said.

"We expect to report a modest improvement in reportable segment results in comparison to the fourth-quarter 2010," he said. "Order rates for most customer groups and publicly reported spot market prices began to increase later in the fourth quarter and we remain cautiously optimistic that global economic conditions will continue to improve in the first quarter."

Flat-rolled steel will benefit from higher prices, shipments and production volumes. But higher rqw material prices, particularly for scrap and coal are expected to offset some of those gains.

Raw steel capability utilization is expected to increase in the fourth quarter except for the company's Hamilton Works in Canada, which is in the midst of a labor dispute.

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