• Kyodo News

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Nippon Steel Corp. said Thursday it has lowered its earnings estimates for the business year ending in March and is now projecting a group net loss of ¥15 billion.

The leading steelmaker earlier projected it would break even. The company turned a net profit of ¥155.08 billion last year.

Nippon Steel also forecast a group operating profit of ¥30 billion, down from ¥10 billion projected in October and down 91.3 percent from the previous year, and a group pretax profit of ¥10 billion, down from an earlier projected ¥20 billion and down 97.0 percent from the previous year.

The company attributed the downward revision to slumping demand in the domestic construction field and hikes in prices of some steel materials. The sales projection for the year remained unchanged at ¥3.5 trillion, down 26.6 percent from the previous year, the steelmaker said.

In the April-December period, the first three quarters in fiscal 2009, Nippon Steel logged a group net loss of ¥45.90 billion against a net profit of ¥212.11 billion a year earlier.

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