On the positive side, our downstream products business reported its first profitable quarter since the fourth quarter of 2008. Nucor's Fabricated Construction Products, joist and decking, rebar fabrication and preengineered metal buildings, returned to profitability as a result of market share gains, improved pricing and effective management of costs.
While first half of 2012 earnings decreased by 44% from the year-ago level, cash generated from operations actually increased by more than 50% to $446 million. Nucor benefits from a countercyclical cushion provided to our cash flow as lower scrap and steel prices reduce our working capital investment during downturns. Nucor's consistent cash flow performance is also helped by our highly variable cost structure.