UPDATE 1-Hunting first-half profit tumbles, expects market to improve in fourth quarter

(Adds CEO quote, outlook)

Aug 27 (Reuters) - Oilfield services group Hunting Plc reported a 63% drop in first-half profit on Thursday as its clients reined in spending due to the coronavirus-led crash in fuel demand, although it expects the market to improve in the fourth quarter.

Crude oil prices are down more than 30% for the year, though they have recovered from a historic decline in April.

“Enquiry levels have improved with the increasing average oil price and areas of the U.S. onshore market indicate that the mid-point of the year could have been the bottom of the cycle, with cautious steps being taken by our clients to incrementally restart operations,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Johnson said.

Hunting, which manufactures a wide range of tools and solutions used in oil and gas exploration, declared a second interim dividend of 2 cents per share and said it was expecting to save about $62 million annually from its cost-cutting program.

The London-listed firm, whose clients include Halliburton and Chevron Corp, said underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization plunged to $28.4 million for the six months ended June 30 from $77.4 million a year earlier. (Reporting by Shanima A in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)