Arcelor Mittal sees steel recovery in 2011

Image caption, The steel giant expects market sentiment to improve

Arcelor Mittal has predicted that 2011 will be a better year for steelmakers than 2010, despite posting a loss in the most recent quarter.

The world's largest steelmaker made a net loss of $780m (£484m) in the last three months of 2010, compared with a $1.35bn profit a year earlier.

Increasing prices for key raw materials such as iron ore and coking coal have hurt the company's bottom line.

But it said steel prices were adjusting to the rises in raw material prices.

It also said production volumes were expected to increase in the first quarter of 2011 as "the gradual underlying demand recovery continues and market sentiment improves".

Shares in the steel giant closed up 2.8% in Paris.

Upbeat outlook

The company's fourth-quarter results were also hit by $598m in charges relating to the spin-off of its stainless steel unit Aperam last month.

But sales rose to $20.7bn from $17.43bn in the same period a year ago.

For the whole of 2010, net profit increased to $2.92bn, from $157m in 2009.

Looking ahead, the company said it expected capacity utilisation to rise to 76% in the current quarter, from 69% in the previous one.

It is also targeting a 10% increase in iron ore production this year.

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