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Australia's James Hardie Q3 profit hit by soft U.S. housing market

(Adds background on U.S. housing market, forecast, CEO comment)

Feb 5 (Reuters) - Australia's James Hardie Industries Plc reported a 10 percent drop in third-quarter profit on Tuesday, as a soft U.S. housing market dealt a blow to sales of the world's biggest fibre cement maker.

The U.S. housing market has been struck by higher mortgage rates, on the back of the Federal Reserve’s upward policy stance for much of 2018, while higher costs for labour and raw materials also led to more expensive homes.

The company, whose U.S. cement sales accounts for a majority of total sales, said adjusted net operating profit fell to $65.9 million for the quarter, from $72.9 million a year earlier.

"The North America housing market demand was soft across most geographies and customer segments," said Chief Executive Officer Jack Truong.

The company added that although U.S. housing activity has been improving, market conditions remain somewhat uncertain and some input costs remain volatile.

It also said it expected full-year adjusted net operating profit to be between $295 million and $315 million, higher than an adjusted net operating profit of $291.3 million in fiscal 2018.

In November last year, the company had cut its full-year earnings guidance, citing uncertainty over the future of the U.S. home building boom which had long propelled its profits.

The disappointing forecast on the back of worries over slowing demand from the U.S. housing market had erased nearly A$1.3 billion ($929.37 million) in the company's market value - its worst day since the 1987 stock market crash.

The Ireland-headquartered firm reported net sales of $596.2 million for the quarter, up from $495.1 million a year prior.

($1 = 1.3988 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Rashmi Ashok in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and James Dalgleish)