Strong global demand, a 17% jump in international steel prices and lower costs helped struggling steel maker ArcelorMittal SA (Amsa) to its first interim profit in six years. Locally, the demand for steel, a bellwether of the economy, was at its lowest level in nine years, with apparent consumption declining to 2.5-million tonnes in the six months to the end of June. Imports declined by 31% over the period to 177,000 tonnes, partly thanks to the imposition of import duties, Amsa said. The group reported interim headline earnings of R54m, a marked improvement on the headline loss of R1.6bn in the first half of 2017. Analysts praised the turnaround, with the share price jumping 20% to R3.65, its highest level in six months. However, it remains a far cry from its record high of R262.43 a decade ago. The South African steel industry has been under immense pressure in recent years, as an extended period of international oversupply depressed prices while weak local demand and rising impor...

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