NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Investors unloaded shares of steelmaking concerns Tuesday after one of its bellwethers, U.S. Steel ( X), appeared to toss a wet blanket on hopes of a speedy recovery in the industry.

The Pittsburgh company, along with Ohio's AK Steel ( AKS), surpassed bottom-line expectations for their just-ended periods, with the former reporting a narrower-than-expected loss and AK swinging to a thin profit after losing money for three consecutive periods.

But U.S. Steel in particular offered a view of its business over the near term that appeared to show that some market expectations for steel producers may have been out of whack with reality.

One of the more pertinent lines from the company's press release read: "We remain cautious in our outlook for end-user demand as order rates in flat-rolled steel and in European markets have decreased from the third quarter, partly due to seasonal slowdowns, and we will continue to adjust production to meet our customers' demand."

Though the fourth-quarter typically marks a natural weakening in steel demand, business has been so anemic of late that seasonality "should be less of a factor," Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at the trading firm BTIG, said in an email.

He added that better-than-expected earnings from companies in other sectors early in the third-quarter reporting season "opened the possibility of a V-shaped recovery in earnings. In this industry's case, that possibility has been extinguished for the time being."

Tuesday afternoon, shares of U.S. Steel, which have been declining sharply since hitting a 52-week high of $51.65 in late September, dropped nearly 9%, or $3.50, to $37.08.

AK Steel shares, meanwhile, shed 9.5%, or $1.78, to $17.01.

Elsewhere in the domestic-steel sector, Nucor ( NUE) lost 5.2% to $41.04; Steel Dynamics ( STLD) declined 3.7% to $14.17; and Worthington Industries ( WOR) retreated 3% to $11.44.

Among overseas concerns, American depositary receipts of the European steel giant Arcelor Mittal ( MT) gave up 4.6% to $35.70, while South Korea's Posco ( PKX) saw its New York-listed issues slip 2% to $112.67.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.