“ArcelorMittal is enjoying a dream combination of strong demand and robust prices,” Seth Rosenfeld, an analyst at Jefferies, an investment bank, said in an interview.
The United States, in particular, is now a “utopia” for steel makers, with imports from all major steel-making countries except Australia now subject to either tariffs or quotas, Mr. Rosenfeld wrote in a recent note to clients.
Analysts said those good times were likely to continue for some time. World demand appears to be strong, and steel makers may achieve further price gains when the contracts under which they supply steel to major customers, like automakers, come up for negotiation. About 40 percent of ArcelorMittal’s steel in the United States is sold under such contracts.
Steel is a notoriously cyclical industry, though. Mr. Rosenfeld noted that American steel makers were already adding new capacity and restarting closed facilities, like a plant in Granite City, Ill., that is being revived by United States Steel, to the delight of Mr. Trump. Those new supplies may eventually bring down prices, while the possibility remains that Mr. Trump modifies, or removes, the tariffs at some point.
Mr. Mittal argued that the tariffs were having a measurable impact in reshaping the global steel industry. In the last two years, he noted, China had closed a substantial number of its steel-making facilities, and protective measures adopted by the United States and Europe would “continue to put pressure on China” to cut even more.
The executive said he opposed a trade war, but added that he supported “all actions to address unfair trade practices.”
He has not allowed his enthusiasm to go so far as to announce new investments in the United States, though. Mr. Mittal noted that new plants required years to pay off, and so the decisions to build them should not be made on the basis of short-term shifts, but rather the outlook over five to 10 years.