$3 billion loss for Arcelormittal

ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, has posted its first annual loss but forecasts improving demand and economic conditions later this year.

The London and Luxembourg-based company posted a $3.73 billion loss for 2012, compared with a $2.26 billion net profit in 2011.

The Wall Street Journal reports the company's fourth quarter losses almost quadrupled to $3.99 billion from $1 billion a year earlier.

Despite overcapacity and weak demand, especially from Europe, CEO Lakshmi Mittal said 2013 had seen an improvement in almost all markets.

“Clearly this quarter is looking stronger than the fourth quarter,” he said.

Reuters reports the manufacturing giant said global steel consumption would grow by three per cent in 2013 after a two per cent rise last year.

Local manufacturers in Australia have also forecasted steel prices to improve this year, but the industry remains weak in most markets.

According to The Wall Street Journal faster growth in Brazil and China were marked as key drivers for the growth, but Europe was marked as an ongoing concern.

“Underlying steel demand remains weak in Europe and looks set to remain so in 2013,” Flat Carbon Europe CEO Robrecht Himpe said.

“Our customers are continuing to scale back capital investment in response.”

ArcelorMittal said it expected its steel production to grow in line with the marginal increase in demand this year, with shipments rising between two and three per cent.

The company said margins per tonne would also improve after the implementation of a cost savings plan.

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