(Bloomberg) -- All signs point to an improvement for the American steel industry in 2023, but steelmakers can’t help but keep warning investors that a recession is possible in the second half of the year.

U.S. Steel Corp., one of the largest domestic producers, said it’s optimistic about demand and noted that sentiment turned positive to kick off the year. But Chief Executive Dave Burritt offered a soft warning to investors that there could be a mild recession later this year.

“There’s a lot of things around the corner, no doubt about it, that are unknown,” Burritt said Friday on a conference call with analysts. “Perhaps a mild recession in the back-half of 2023, and a strong recovery in 2024.”

The comments come seven weeks after Nucor Corp., the largest US steelmaker, told shareholders that a recession could impact future demand. Since then, Nucor and Steel Dynamics Inc. have shaken off the slow end to last year by suggesting better times are ahead.

U.S. Steel even forecast flat-rolled steel shipments of about 8.5 million to 9 million tons, which was more than the 8.2 million-ton average estimate of analysts. The Pittsburgh-based company said the first quarter would mark a “trough” for the market this year, with hurdles to economic growth including weakening manufacturing activity, declining housing permits and a lot of geopolitical risks.

Shares of U.S. Steel rose 6% to $30.98 at 10:14 a.m. in New York, the biggest intraday jump since mid-December. The North American steel industry gathers next week in Tampa, Florida, which will surely yield more insights from major producers, buyers and analysts about the strength of the market.

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