NEW YORK Modest
inventory restocking in the second half of 2013 following
multi-month inventory lows will likely boost the U.S. steel
sheet market, according to the top executive of the
worlds largest steelmaker.
"In the U.S., the
economic growth in the first half of 2013 was only 1.4 percent,
mainly due to the sequester and underlying fundamentals,"
ArcelorMittal SA chairman and chief executive officer Lakshmi
Mittal said during the companys second-quarter earnings
call Aug. 1.
Mittal said that
robust automotive sales, increased appliance demand and strong
residential construction growth remained bright spots in the
North American market, adding that much of the weakness in the
companys first-half was due to service centers keeping
"Inventory in the
States is now at a low and the slow rebound in the second half
should be supported by mild restocking," he said.
companys Flat Carbon Americas sector posted sales of
$4.79 billion in the second quarter, down 1.4 percent from
$4.86 billion in the first quarter, and down 10.6 percent from
sales of $5.36 billion in the second quarter of 2012.
operating income in the same segment dropped to $61 million in
the quarter, down 69.5 percent from $200 million in the
previous quarter, and down 81.6 percent from $332 million in
the second quarter a year ago.
Steel shipments in the
Flat Carbon Americas sector fell to 5.41 million tonnes, down
2.7 percent from the previous quarter, and down 5.7 percent
compared with the same period a year ago.
Louis L. Schorsch,
chief executive officer of ArcelorMittals Flat Carbon
Americas unit, said the recent pickup in sheet tags has been
helpful, particularly because the first half of the year saw a
lot of weakness.
"If you look at the
entire year, we were actually a little puzzled that prices were
seemingly relatively depressed in the first quarter and into
the second quarter," he said.
Average selling prices
in Flat Carbon Americas sector were $831 per tonne in the
second quarter, up 1.5 percent from $819 per tonne in the first
quarter, but down 5.7 percent from $881 per tonne in the second
quarter of 2012.
Looking ahead, the
company said the U.S. steel market remains lackluster, issuing
a zero to 1 percent prediction target for apparent steel
consumption in 2013.