BRUSSELS, July 27 (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer, on Thursday raised its outlook for global steel demand, as it expected the Chinese industry to return to growth, but said cheap imports continued to hurt its business.
The group said it expected apparent steel consumption, which takes into account inventory levels, to increase by 2.5 to 3.0 percent globally in 2017 compared to last year, a sharp increase from its previous 0.5 to 1.5 percent estimate.
This increase was driven by a recovery in the Chinese market, the company said, which it had previously expected to decline this year.
"It remains a matter of concern that we are not able to capture the full benefits of this demand growth due to continued high levels of imports," Chief Executive Lakshmi Mittal said in a statement.
For the group as a whole, core profit (EBITDA) rose by 19 percent in the second quarter to $2.11 billion, broadly in line with the $2.14 billion expected in a Reuters poll of nine analysts. (Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)