Outokumpu warns of weaker outlook as Asian steel imports jump

Aug 1 (Reuters) - Finnish stainless steel manufacturer Outokumpu warned of further weakness ahead after second-quarter profit slumped by a third as cheap Asian imports hit European sales.

Core profit fell 33 percent from a year earlier to 91 million euros ($101 million), it said on Thursday, roughly in line with analyst expectations of 93.4 million euros, Refinitiv data shows.

“In Europe we are still battling with cheap Asian imports despite the permanent safeguards that became effective in February,” Chief Executive Roeland Baan said in a statement.

“Import penetration is back at 30% and the start of the new quota period on July 1 has already led to a further jump in imports.”

Baan said the steel industry was in continuous dialogue with the European Commission, which imposed new curbs on steel imports in early 2019 to improve the effectiveness of the safeguards.

“Conversely, imports into the U.S. have stayed at relatively low levels. However, due to the continued distributor destocking, we don’t see significant volume upside in the short term in the Americas,” Baan added. ($1 = 0.9051 euros) (Reporting by Tarmo Virki in Tallinn Editing by David Goodman)