Steel & Tube Holdings, the construction materials supplier, reported a 2.4 per cent fall in first-half profit, and does not expect much improvement in a hurry.

Net profit fell to $6.4 million, or 7.2c a share, in the six months ended December 31, compared with $8.4 million, or 9.5c a share, in the same period a year earlier.

That reflected weak demand, volatile domestic steel prices and discounting by some manufacturers and distributors leading to significant margin pressure.

Sales rose 7 per cent to $202.9 million. Net profit in the year ended June 30 was $17 million.