* NLMK says Q4 core earnings up 61 pct y/y
* Says Q4 sales affected by bad weather in ports
* Shares up 1 pct in Moscow, outperform market (Adds details, quotes, context)
MOSCOW, March 6 (Reuters) - Russia's largest steel producer NLMK said on Monday its core earnings rose sharply in the fourth quarter as steel prices recovered from a two-year long slump.
Russian steelmakers, including Severstal and Evraz , are pinning their hopes for a stronger 2017 as the industry emerges from a downturn and begins to improve, buoyed by a stronger economy and rising oil prices.
"Having hit rock bottom in late 2015 – early 2016, prices for raw materials and steel products recovered in 2016," NLMK said in a statement.
Rising steel prices drove NLMK's earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up 61 percent year-on-year to $518 million, just shy of analysts' forecasts for $522 million.
But its fourth-quarter sales fell 3 percent to 3.64 million tonnes as some of its shipments were pushed back to the first quarter of 2017 due to stormy weather at Black Sea ports.
NLMK's full-year EBITDA remained flat at $1.9 billion on the year. Severstal's EBITDA fell 8.8 percent in 2016, while Evraz reported a 7 percent rise in core earnings.
NLMK's fourth-quarter net income jumped to $308 million from $76 million a year ago.
Shares in NLMK, controlled by billionaire Vladimir Lisin, were up 1 percent by 0839 GMT, outperforming Moscow's broader MICEX index, which was up 0.1 percent. (Reporting by Anastasia Lyrchikova; writing by Polina Devitt; editing by Louise Heavens)