ArcelorMittal SA reported its highest quarterly profit in a decade as steel prices soared amid a commodities boom that’s touched everything from copper to corn. The biggest steelmaker outside China said it now expects steel demand this year, a key barometer for global economic growth, to be at or above the upper range of its February forecast. It projected an increase in demand of 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent, following a contraction in 2020 during the pandemic.
Aditya Mittal took the helm at ArcelorMittal from his father this year as rebounding demand from the manufacturing and construction industries collides with tight supply. The resulting boom has pushed benchmark European steel prices to the highest on record, as the reopening of economies sparks a surge across commodities markets from iron ore to lumber.
“As prices have continued to increase I would expect the second quarter to be even stronger,” said Ingo Schachel at Commerzbank AG. “I like the consistently good performance in all steel segments.” First-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization were $3.24 billion, ArcelorMittal said on Thursday in a statement. That surpassed analysts’ estimates.
“The first quarter of this year has been our strongest in a decade,” said incoming chief executive officer Aditya Mittal. “While this is naturally a very welcome development following a highly challenging 2020, we are mindful that Covid continues to be a health challenge across the world especially in developing economies.”
Steel and iron ore futures resumed trading on a strong foot on Thursday as investors in China returned after a public holiday. Expectations are building that iron ore prices can reach $200 a ton, while rebar and hot-rolled coil futures in Shanghai marched to new heights, as demand continues to be robust from Asia to North America.