PARIS -- ArcelorMittal (IW 1000/43) has pulled out of the bottom of the slump in the global steel market, the group reported on Thursday, saying it had cut losses in the third quarter and holding targets for operations and debt.
The net loss of the third quarter was cut by two thirds from the equivalent figure last year to $193 million from $652 million.
Chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said: "We believe that the bottom of the cycle is behind us."
He said that the group expected earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the second half of the year, which was usually weaker than the first half, to be "at least equal to the first."
He said: "Although operating conditions remain challenging, as economic indicators are improving we are cautiously optimistic about the prospects for 2014."
The steel industry is considered to be a barometer of general economic conditions, and the tone of the statement was markedly more positive than in August when the group reported a net loss of $780 million for the second quarter and lowered its targets for the year.
The latest outcome was better than analysts had expected. Sales were almost steady at $19.6 billion, and the EBITA figure rose by 15.6% to $1.7 billion whereas analysts polled by Bloomberg news service had expected $1.5 billion.
The group said it stood by its target to reduce debt to $17.0 billion at the end of the year despite an increase, as it had expected, in the third quarter.
The debt rose from $16.2 billion to $17.8 billion owing to working capital requirements linked to the payment of dividends.
- Antonio Rodriguez, AFP
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013