BlueScope upbeat, reduces debt

BlueScope has said Australian conditions remain “challenging”, but has expressed optimism and reduced its debt by 75 per cent.

At Thursday’s annual meeting, the company said the dollar’s moderation and interest rate cuts this financial year were positives, and the December half’s underlying profit was expected to be similar to the $19.7 million in the second half of the 2013 financial year, Fairfax reports.

The Australian noted that it represented the “first upbeat assessment” given by the company in half a decade, despite the persisting challenges.

“Generally the Australian market remains challenging,” said managing director Paul O’Malley, though noted that there were preliminary signs of improvement.

”Recent improvements in residential housing approvals and house price rises are good leading indicators for the performance of the residential construction end-use market.

The meeting was also told that debt at the end of June had decreased from $584 million to $148 million.