Lakshmi Mittal, head of the world’s biggest steelmaker, said ArcelorMittal faced both volume and price pressures’ over the next two months because of increasing economic uncertainty and weakening confidence among customers.

The company, which reported a 51% fall in net income for Q3, warned its steel shipments this quarter would fall from the 22.1Mt registered in Q3. It said customers were taking a wait and see approach, cutting warehouse stocks ahead of what many regard as a potentially difficult 2012.

ArcelorMittal’s biggest operating division is in Europe, where steel purchases in sectors such as construction and cars are being pared back due to worries about the continent’s economy in the wake of the lingering eurozone crisis.

Production from its plants in Europe is now running at the level of about 28Mt/y, compared with the 36Mt/y operating level in 2007 when demand for steel was soaring. The cuts in output in Europe are being made through idling some of the company’s mills across France, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg.

The company’s net income in the three months to September 30 was $659M, against $1.3bn in the same period of 2010, as it felt the impact of a higher tax charge.

In Q3 2011, sales were $24.2bn, 22.6% higher than the $19.7bn seen in Q3 2010.