PITTSBURGH (AP) -- U.S. Steel Corp. could shed more light on its bumpy ride through the global economic recovery when it reports fourth-quarter results on Tuesday.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The economy has been a mixed bag for companies like U.S. Steel.
American factory production has improved in the past six months as auto sales rose and businesses spent more on machinery and computers, but manufacturing levels remain nearly 8 percent below the pre-recession peak in July 2007.
Companies that purchase steel have been using up their excess inventory instead of making new purchases because of concerns about the global economy. The U.S. economy is improving, but China's growth is slowing and Europe is grappling with a sovereign debt crisis.
As a result, steel prices softened for much of the fourth quarter and raw material costs rose, analysts said.
U.S. Steel's performance also has been affected directly by the European Union's financial problems.
The company began exploring options for its Serbia operations in October. Serbia's prime minister said Friday that the government will buy the plant from U.S. Steel for a symbolic $1 to avoid its closure. U.S. Steel spokeswoman Erin DiPietro declined comment on the report.
U.S. Steel's share price rose about 4 percent in the fourth quarter.
WHY IT MATTERS: U.S. Steel turns out a variety of products for a diverse group of industries, from appliances and automobiles to industrial equipment, pipes and construction. Its performance can provide insight into economic growth.
WHAT'S EXPECTED: A narrower loss than in 2010's fourth quarter. Analysts polled by FactSet expect U.S. Steel to post an adjusted net loss of 84 cents a share on revenue of $4.74 billion.
Compared with the third quarter, U.S. Steel forecast strong performance in tubular operations but lower operating results in other North American and European operations. It also predicted lower average prices and declining shipments.
LAST YEAR'S QUARTER: U.S. Steel lost $249 million, or $1.74 per share. Revenue totaled $4.3 billion.