Towards the end of the fourth quarter, demand in Europe weakened at a faster rate than SSAB had anticipated in the Company’s third quarter report.  A disruption in production at one of the blast furnaces in Oxelösund contributed to a decline in earnings. Production at the blast furnace is expected to return to full operation in another few weeks.

Due to weak market outlook during the fourth quarter, SSAB took the opportunity to bring forward part of a maintenance outage at the plant in Mobile, Alabama, which was previously scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. 

As a result of these factors, SSAB expects to show an operating profit of close to zero for the fourth quarter. Incoming orders for delivery during the first quarter have improved significantly compared with orders received for delivery in the current quarter. The order book for SSAB Americas is such that we anticipate full production during the first quarter of 2011, while the picture remains somewhat weaker in Europe.