NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. jumped Thursday after the iron ore miner's first-quarter profit decline wasn't as bad as investors had feared.

THE SPARK: Cliffs' profit fell 74 percent to $97.1 million, the company said late Wednesday. Excluding one-time items, earnings came to 60 cents on a per-share basis. Analysts had expected worse: Net income of 32 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue fell 6 percent to $1.14 billion.

THE BIG PICTURE: Cleveland-based Cliffs sells iron ore in the U. S. and Asia. The material is used in blast furnaces as part of the process of making steel.

The company said global iron ore volumes fell 10 percent in the quarter. Iron-ore prices have fallen sharply as the global steel industry has struggled with tepid demand and plentiful supplies.

THE ANALYSIS: The January-March period was the first time Cliffs beat analysts' earnings expectations after 5 straight misses, said Citi analyst Brian Yu. He has a "Neutral" rating and a $21 price target on the stock.

THE SHARES: Up $3.66, or 20 percent, to $21.88 in heavy trading at midday. Shares had lost 73 percent of their value over the past 12 months.

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