* Brazil’s CSN sees most steel going to domestic market
* Expects iron ore exports of 37 million tonnes
SAO PAULO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Brazil’s No. 3 steelmaker CSN CSN3.SA aims to increase sales in 2010 by one third to 5.5 million tonnes, up from last year’s 4.1 million tonnes, the company’s commercial director said on Friday.
Luis Fernando Martinez said CSN was holding to its estimate of 37 million tonnes of iron ore exports this year, up sharply from 21.8 million tonnes in 2009. It said the supply and demand balance for steel would help prop up the selling price.
Steel imports into Brazil were holding down local prices but Martinez said higher prices on the international market would slow this inward flow. CSN expects to sell about 85 percent of its steel in 2010 on the domestic market.
The company reported fourth-quarter net earnings on Friday of 745.4 million reais ($407.1 million), down sharply from the 3.94 billion reais it made in the same quarter a year earlier but a smaller drop in profit than analysts had expected. ($1=1.817 reais) (Reporting by Alberto Alerigi; Writing by Peter Murphy)