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BlueScope Gains After First-Half Net Loss Narrows: Sydney Mover

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) -- BlueScope Steel Ltd., Australia’s largest steelmaker, climbed to a 15-month high in Sydney trading after reporting its first-half net loss narrowed.

The stock gained 15 percent to A$4.35 at the close of trading, its highest since October 2011. The gain was the biggest on the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index.

The net loss narrowed to A$12 million ($12.4 million) in the six months ended Dec. 31, from A$530 million a year ago when it had restructuring costs, the Melbourne-based company said today in a statement. BlueScope had an underlying profit of A$10 million, beating its own guidance for a small loss.

“The result reflects a significant turnaround for the steel manufacturer, given it was A$530 million in the red the same time last year,” William Leys, a sales trader at CMC Markets, said in an emailed note.

BlueScope stopped most exports from Australia, shut a mill and a furnace and shed more than 1,000 jobs in the past two years to cut costs as a stronger Australian dollar, higher labor expenses and lower steel prices hurt profit.

“This improvement comes on the back of strong cost management and despite dumped imports and some softening of domestic volumes,” BlueScope said in today’s statement. “We expect a continued improvement with a small underlying net profit after tax” in the second half subject to domestic demand, margins and foreign exchange rates, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Soraya Permatasari in Melbourne at soraya@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jason Rogerssales at jrogers73@bloomberg.net; Andrew Hobbs at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net

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