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Construction group St Gobain H1 profits fall but hopes for better H2

PARIS, July 30 (Reuters) - French construction materials group St Gobain reported lower first-half profits on Thursday, although the company hoped for a better second-half performance, echoing comments from rivals LafargeHolcim and HeidelbergCement.

First-half operating profits fell 49.5% from last year to 827 million euros ($976 million). Sales slid 18.1% as the global construction industry has been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed down building sites, but St Gobain said it had seen signs of a pick-up in June.

“In a macroeconomic and health environment which remains affected by uncertainties, our earnings growth in June and outlook for the third quarter suggest that our operating income for the second-half of 2020 will improve significantly on the first-half of 2020,” said St Gobain chairman and CEO Pierre-André de Chalendar. ($1 = 0.8475 euros) (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Hugh Lawson)