ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, made a modest profit in 2009, beating expectations it would lose out because of the sharp fall in prices for metals.

The company said it finished the year up $118M mainly due to a profit of $1.07bn in Q4 of 2009 as economic growth returned to major markets and steel prices recovered.

Chairman and chief executive Lakshmi Mittal said: “Although 2010 will continue to be challenging, we are now increasing capital expenditure to take advantage of selected growth opportunities as demand improves.” In 2008, ArcelorMittal had made a net profit of $9.4bn.

Mittal said a return to growth in emerging markets had helped offset shrinking demand in the major industrial powers that suffered the brunt of the financial crisis. ArcelorMittal produced 71.1Mt of steel, about 6% of total world output. This compares to 101.7Mt produced the year before