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Ezz Steel posts first-half net loss of 176 mln Egyptian pounds

Workers walk in front of a factory belonging to Ezz Steel, Egypt's largest steel producer, at an industrial complex in Sadat City, 94 km (58 miles) north of Cairo, April 17, 2013. Picture taken April 17, 2013. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - Ezz Steel, Egypt's biggest steelmaker, posted a first-half net loss of 176 million Egyptian pounds ($24.6 million) on Thursday, compared with a net profit of 302 million a year earlier. "The first half of 2014 has been a challenging period for the business, as the disrupted availability of utilities in Egypt has had a material impact on output and margins," said Paul Chekaibin, the firm's chairman and managing director. Net sales fell to 10.264 billion pounds from 11.141 billion a year earlier, Ezz said. The company attributed the decline in sales to "a significant decrease in export volumes" which it blamed on weakness in international steel markets. At the same time, the company said political uncertainty in the run-up to the presidential election in May hurt domestic sales of long steel. Total long steel sales volumes - domestic and export - were down 8 percent year-on year, it said, while flat steel sales fell by 10 percent. (1 U.S. dollar = 7.1500 Egyptian pounds)