ArcelorMittal SA shares were well supported in midmorning trade on Monday after SA’s premier steel producer flagged an improvement in its financial performance.

The share price gained up to 6% to R14.99, its best since 2015, after the small-cap company said that headline loss per share in the year to December was expected to drop to between R2.39 and R2.49, from R13.38 a year ago.

The improvement partially stemmed from the nonrecurrence of the once-off items in 2015, which included the Competition Commission penalty and the closer of Thabazimbi mine.

There was also an impairment to tune of R4.25bn in the prior reporting period, consisting mainly of Saldanha and the Vaal Melt shop in Vereeniging.

Higher steel prices and cost efficiencies in 2016 also boosted the financial performance.

In its research note, BMI Research said on Friday that steel producers were set to benefit from rising prices, which would increase margins, while rising domestic GDP growth would sustain steel demand in the coming months.

The stock was up 5.3% to R14.90 in midmorning on the JSE on Monday, valuing the company at R16.9bn.

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