US Jobless Rate Now Lowest Since 2008, ArcelorMittal Hints at US Plant Closings

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Cold-rolled steel

In today’s MetalCrawler update, the jobless rate fell again even as the world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal, said it might idle more US plants.

Jobless Rate Falls

The US economy added a solid 230,000 jobs in April, according to government data released Friday morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a sign that the labor market is regaining its footing after taking a slide earlier this year.

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The unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, a seven-year low.

The latest numbers offer encouragement that the recent economic slowdown marks a temporary blip rather than a sign of deeper problems. Both the jobs growth in April, as well as the tick down in the unemployment rate, were almost exactly in line with market expectations.

ArcelorMittal May Close US Plants

ArcelorMittal SA said it might follow U.S. Steel Corp. in idling more American plants as it struggles to cope with a global steel glut, weak iron-ore prices and a surge of imports into the US.

The world’s biggest steelmaker, based in Luxembourg, said Thursday that its first-quarter net loss widened to $728 million from $205 million a year earlier. Revenue fell 13% to $17.12 billion.

The company plans to cut costs in its iron-ore mining business and reduce operations in the US., Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. “We are contemplating all actions” to remain competitive, he said. “Including idling some [plants].”

The US is ArcelorMittal’s No. 2 market, after Europe.

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