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United States Steel on Tuesday said it would idle two blast furnaces in the United States and a third in Europe, as lower steel prices and softening demand led the steel producer to forecast current-quarter earnings below the Wall Street estimates.
Steel producers in the United States have brought old capacity online after President Donald Trump's imposed tariffs on imported steel from countries including China, resulting in a surplus supply of steel at a time when manufacturing demand has weakened, suppressing prices.
U.S. Steel said it will also idle one of its blast furnaces in Europe where increasing levels of imports and higher raw material costs are hurting the company's operations.
"We are idling two blast furnaces in the United States and one blast furnace in Europe to better align our global production with our order book," U.S. Steel said in a statement.
U.S. Steel will idle a blast furnace at the company's Gary Works facility in Indiana, where early this year it was negotiating a $47 million tax break package from the city and state in return for promises of modernization.
The Gary Works facility has four blast furnaces with an annual raw steel production capability of 7.5 million tons. The second furnace to be idled is in the company's Great Lakes Works facility, located in Ecorse and River Rouge, Michigan, which has three blast furnaces with annual raw steel production capability of 3.8 million tons.
The company forecast second-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to be about $250 million, below the average analysts' expectation of $291.1 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Shares of steel producers rose earlier in the day after Steel Dynamics' better-than-feared results, signaling of rate cuts by the European Central Bank and news of Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping getting together to restart trade talks.