Arcelor Mittal steel foundry. Photo: Arcelor.

Johannesburg - ArcelorMittal South Africa said on Friday its first-half loss narrowed compared to last year but earnings are expected to remain under strain because of weak domestic economic growth and labour disputes.

Africa's biggest producer of steel reported a headline loss of 2 cents a share for the six months to end-June compared with a loss of 31 cents the same period last year.

Headline earnings, the main profit gauge in South Africa, exclude certain one-off and non trading items.

The company, a unit of the world's top steelmaker, said liquid steel production for the period declined 3.8 percent to 2.386 million tonnes, mostly due to a planned shutdown of a blast furnace at its Newcastle plant.

The company said its results for the third quarter would be under pressure from a weak local economy and a strike in the manufacturing sector.

“The effects of the metal and engineering strike will have short-term negative effects on our cost and on our customers,” it said in a statement.

South Africa's main manufacturing union ended a four-week strike in the metals and engineering sector on Monday after accepting a wage increase offer from employers.

The metals strike came hot on the heels of a five-month walkout in the platinum sector, the longest and costliest strike in South Africa's history. - Reuters