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Usiminas Beats Peers on Steel Price Increase Speculation

Usinas Siderurgicas de Minas Gerais SA was the only Brazilian steelmaker stock to post gains today, following speculation it will boost prices to counter higher costs.

Usiminas, as the Belo Horizonte, Brazil-based company is known, rose 0.4 percent to 12.09 reais at the close in Sao Paulo. The shares were the second-best performer after pulp producer Fibria Celulose SA in the MSCI Brazil/Materials index, which fell 1.7 percent to the lowest since Dec. 25.

Usiminas informed clients that domestic prices will rise 3.5 percent to 7 percent on Jan. 20, a person with knowledge of the plan said, declining to be named because the increase hasn’t been made public. The company is trying to increase profit margins amid rising prices for coal and iron-ore used to make steel, the person said.

“Price increases are always good,” Leonardo Brito, an equity analyst at hedge fund Teorica Investimentos, said by telephone from Rio de Janeiro today. “Despite being a bit expected, it still has some impact” on the stock performance.

A press official for Usiminas in Belo Horizonte said yesterday that the company doesn’t comment on pricing.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, and Cia. Siderurgica Nacional SA, Brazil’s third-largest, are seeking to boost prices in the country by between 3.5 percent and 7.5 percent, another person with knowledge of those plans said Jan. 9. An external media official working for ArcelorMittal in Belo Horizonte said the company doesn’t comment on its price policy. Officials at CSN, as the Brazilian steelmaker is known, also declined to comment.

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