THE LEX COLUMN: Hardy ArcelorMittal’s fall reflects geopolitical jitters and weak results
First quarter’s profit drop also resulted from factors that could turn in steelmaker’s favour
US President Donald Trump harrumphs on Twitter. European steel companies take a bashing. A 10% fall in ArcelorMittal’s share price last week reflects geopolitical jitters as much as weak first-quarter results on Thursday. The world’s largest steel producer is malleable enough to withstand a hammering in 2019. Steel producers cannot escape global trade wars. ArcelorMittal complains the EU has failed to stop a surge in steel imports, especially from Turkey. ArcelorMittal’s plans, outlined last week, to cut annual crude production by 3-million tons or 7% of European output are meant as a message to politicians. But the first quarter’s profit fall also resulted from factors that could turn in its favour. One was the squeezed demand for steel products, partly due to car industry woes. Leading economic indicators point to a European upturn and Chinese demand — half the world’s — rising in 2019. Beijing’s stimulus and better-than-expected property markets should help there. Margins at th...