PhotoA red-hot steel plate passes through a press at the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Ghent, Belgium, July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

JOHANNESBURG – ArcelorMittal South Africa narrowed full-year losses by 82 percent, it said on Friday, citing higher steel prices and a reduction in one-off items.

The affiliate of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, reported a basic headline loss per share of 244 cents for the year end Dec. 31, against 1,336 cents in the previous year.

The company said that average steel prices rose 8 percent but gains were capped by lower consumption amid subdued economic growth and continuing competition from imports.

South Africa, which has the only primary steel mill in sub-Saharan Africa, imposed a 10 percent import tariff in 2015 to protect an industry hurt by cheaper Chinese imports.

“The building and construction sector, which typically accounts for almost two thirds of all steel consumption, registered a lacklustre growth rate,” the company said in a statement.

Domestic steel demand is expected to remain subdued in 2017, the company said, adding that volatility in the rand/U.S. dollar exchange rate would also weigh on results.

Shares in ArcelorMittal South Africa were up 1 percent at 13.80 rand at 0742 GMT.

($1 = 13.4270 rand)

(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by David Goodman)

Source: Reuters

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