Vienna — Austrian steel maker Voestalpine expects profits to stay flat in the business year 2018-19 after the previous year’s surge, impeded by a US shift towards protectionist trade policies and signs of a slowing economy in Europe. Strong demand from the motor industry helped the group increase 2017-18 operating profit by 43%. Voestalpine has specialised in finished parts for the automotive, aerospace and rail industries in recent years to deal with strong competition and overcapacity in the sector. The group, which opened a $1bn plant in Texas in the US in 2016 as part of its strategy to grow abroad, plans to increase its payout to shareholders by 27% to €1.40 per share. CEO Wolfgang Eder told a news conference it was too early to talk about next year’s dividend but suggested that an upper limit for the dividend had been reached. Demand Helped by continued strong demand in Europe and China, Eder said he hoped for stable earnings in the 2018-19 business year that ends in March. "E...

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