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UPDATE 1-ArcelorMittal expects to increase steel shipments by 5% in 2023

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BRUSSELS, Feb 9 (Reuters) - ArcelorMittal, the world's second-largest steelmaker, on Thursday said it expects its steel shipments to increase by around 5% this year, as it reported fourth-quarter earnings that were in line with expectations.

The Luxembourg-based company said its fourth-quarter core profit (EBITDA), the figure most watched by the market, was $1.26 billion, down from $5.05 billion a year before but in line with the average forecast in a company poll.

The company said worldwide demand for steel, excluding China, was expected to recover by 2% to 3% this year, following the global economic slowdown last year that decreased Arcelor's shipments by 11%.

"Evidence suggests that the customer destock we saw in the second half of 2022 has peaked, hence providing support to apparent steel consumption and steel spread," Chief Executive Aditya Mittal said.

ArcelorMittal said it expected to have a positive free cash flow over 2023, with capital expenditures between $4.5 billion and $5 billion.

The company reported a net profit of $0.30 per share over the last three months of 2022, below the $0.38 analysts had expected on average. (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Tom Hogue)