(Adds MD & CEO quote, details on performance, background)
May 15 (Reuters) - Australian steel maker BlueScope Steel Ltd on Tuesday raised its guidance for underlying earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) for the second half by 12.2 percent, helped by stronger margins at a facility in the United States.
The firm said underlying EBIT for the six months ended June 30 is now expected to be A$680 million ($511.90 million), compared to prior guidance of A$606 million, attributing the upgrade to higher margins on steel from its North Star mini-mill in Ohio.
BlueScope added that higher margins on coke exported also helped its Australian Steel Products business.
U.S. President Donald Trump reached an agreement to permanently exempt Australia from the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs earlier in May, according to the White House.
"Our other businesses are performing well, and generally in line with our expectations set out in February," said Managing Director and Chief Executive Mark Vassella.
The firm is due to report results for the second half on Aug. 13.
$1 = 1.3284 Australian dollars Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; Editing by Sandra Maler and James Dalgleish