Newly released economic data from Cliffs is good news

Cliffs Natural Resources released a batch of financial statistics Thursday that offered more than a little evidence the company is starting to turn the corner.

Long-buffeted and in dire straits along with much of the rest of the domestic iron ore and steel industries, Cliffs reported increases in earnings for 2016’s fourth quarter and the year as a whole.

For the fourth quarter, a company report distributed to media stated revenues of $754 million were earned, an increase of 58 percent from the prior year’s fourth-quarter revenues of $476 million.

During the same period, the company recorded a net income of $81 million, compared to a net loss of $58 million in the prior-year quarter.

For all of 2016, revenues of $2.1 billion were cited, an increase of 5 percent from the prior year’s revenues of $2 billion.

Cliffs recorded net a income of $199 million for the full year, compared to a net loss of $748 million recorded in the prior year.

Boosted by the positive news, Cliffs common shares were trading at $11.37 at the close of Thursday’s session, not near its all-time high but well above its all-time low.

So there is cause for celebration, certainly at company headquarters in Cleveland and on the Marquette Iron Range where the glee is tempered by the knowledge that several hundred out-of-work miners were made that way when Cliffs shuttered the Empire Mine in Palmer.

Needless to say, we’re pleased the company is beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We hope the positive trends continue.