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ArcelorMittal has reported a double-digit boost to sales and earnings, as a recovery in the global steel market and the fruits of a company turnaround programme lifted the metal producer.

The world’s largest steel and mining company posted a 13.9 per cent increase in sales to $16.1bn in the first quarter of 2017 from the previous three months, and delivered a 34 per cent boost to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, reaching $2.2bn.

The results signal markedly improved trading conditions for ArcelorMittal, which last year resorted to a $3bn rights issue to reduce its debt, having earlier suspended dividend payments.

At the same time, the company unveiled a programme to boost core profit by $3bn by 2020, through a mixture of cost-cutting, increased production and a focus on higher-value forms of steel.

Production of crude steel inched up from 21.8 million tonnes to 23.6 million tonnes in the three months to March 31st.

Lakshmi Mittal, the company’s chairman, said the results pointed to improved market conditions, but he again hit out at “unfair imports in many of our key markets”.

China has been accused by western producers of deepening the crash in steel prices by dumping excess material overseas at lowball prices — prompting a protectionist backlash with the US and EU imposing trade tariffs.

Mr Mittal added:

I am satisfied with the first quarter results, which reflect the anticipated positive momentum in the market and the progress we are making internally to make the business stronger. All parts of the business reported improved EBITDA as steel prices responded to higher raw material costs and strong volume growth saw steel shipments increase by 5.1% compared with the fourth quarter.

Our mining segment benefitted from an increase in iron-ore shipped at market prices as well as the higher raw material price environment. Looking ahead, we expect market conditions to be broadly stable in the second quarter. While this is encouraging, the steel industry is still impacted by unfair imports in many of our key markets and we hope to see further progress in ensuring the necessary trade solutions.

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