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Steel giant ArcelorMittal sinks into the red

The world's largest steel producer ArcelorMittal has plunged deep into the red owing to one-off events and high restructuring costs. But weak global steel demand and Europe's debt crisis also weighed on the 2012 result.

ArcelorMittal posted a net loss of $3.7 billion (2.7 billion euros) in 2012, according to the steelmaker's latest earnings figures released on Wednesday, comparing unfavorably with a net profit of $2.3 billion in 2011.

Sales fell by 10.4 percent to $84 billion, with shipments of steel down 2.3 percent, while iron ore shipments rose by 5.4 percent.

In a statement, Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said that "2012 was a very difficult year for the steel industry, particularly in Europe where demand for steel fell a further 8.8 percent."

In addition, the Luxembourg-based company, the world's largest steelmaker, attributed its net loss last year to $3.4 billion in write-downs on the value of its assets in Europe and a charge of $1.3 billion resulting from restructuring.

Though he expects that the steel business will remain a challenge this year owing to fragile markets in Europe, Mittal said that industry indicators had been more positive recently. Therefore, the company's improved competitiveness and reduced debt would support higher profits in the steel business this year.

ArcelorMittal expects steel sales to rise between 2 and 3 percent in 2013, and the company's iron ore sales to climb by 20 percent.

uhe/dr (dpa, AFP)