PITTSBURGH ( TheStreet) -- U.S. Steel ( X) swung to a third-quarter loss as sales fell dramatically from a year earlier on continued weak demand. The steelmaker reported a loss in the third quarter of $303 million, or $2.11 a share, down from profit a year earlier of $919 million, or $7.79 a share. The result, however, was narrower than the latest second-quarter loss of $392 million, or $2.92 a share. Net sales in the quarter were $2.82 billion, down from year-earlier sales of $7.31 billion, but above second-quarter sales of $2.13 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected U.S. Steel to report a third-quarter loss of $2.87 a share on revenue of $2.72 billion. U.S. Steel said shipments rose 41% from the second quarter to 4.2 million tons. The company said it expects its fourth-quarter results to improve but said it will still report a fourth-quarter operating loss. "We expect improvement in our overall fourth quarter results mainly as a result of increased demand for flat-rolled products in North America, driven primarily by automotive markets and continued strength in tin mill markets," said Chairman and CEO John Surma, in a statement. "However, we expect to report an overall operating loss in the fourth quarter due primarily to continued low operating rates and idled facility carrying costs for our Flat-rolled and Tubular segments." -- Reported by Joseph Woelfel in New York . Follow TheStreet.com on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.