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LUXEMBOURG (

TheStreet

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ArcelorMittal

(MT) - Get ArcelorMittal SA Report

, the world's largest maker of steel, swung to a third-quarter profit of $903 million as the company said it is witnessing the first signs of recovery in the steel industry.

Earnings in the third quarter plunged from $3.82 billion a year earlier, but it was a turnaround as the company had posted losses in the previous three quarters.

Sales in the quarter fell to $16.17 billion from $35.19 billion a year earlier. Second-quarter sales were $15.17 billion.

ArcelorMittal said third-quarter shipments rose 7% from the latest second quarter to 18.2 million tonnes.

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"As anticipated, we have seen the first signs of recovery in the third quarter. In response to this increased demand, a number of our facilities have now been re-started, and we expect fourth quarter crude steel capacity utilization to be approximately 70%," said Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal, in a statement Wednesday. "We should continue to see further gradual improvement through 2010, although the operating environment remains challenging."

The company said fourth quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization are expected to be $2 billion to $2.4 billion.

Shipments and average steel selling prices are expected to be higher in the fourth quarter of 2009 from the third quarter, ArcelorMittal said.

-- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York

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