Despite a 29% rise in third-quarter profits, ArcelorMittal will reportedly cut output by nearly a third as the current economic climate dampens demand for the steel used in houses and cars. The production cut of 30%, which will reduce its operating capacity below 65% of capability, is double the 15% the company warned of recently. ArcelorMittal will also put on hold an expansion plan that would have increased steel shipments by a fifth by 2010. The company, which does not plan major layoffs at this stage, will start idling plants this month and would not say how long it will last.

Included in the cuts is ArcelorMittal’s Cleveland, Ohio, facility, where two blast furnaces were idled in late October. The biggest impact could be felt in Europe, where the company is shutting down one blast furnace in each of its European production units. ArcelorMittal is the world’s largest steelmaker, with a total capacity of about 120 million metric tons/year for raw steel at plants in Africa, Asia, Europe and North and South America.