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Steel shipments rose 5 percent last year

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill on its way to becoming a coil of steel. Steel shipments rose by 5 percent last year

John J. Watkins, The Times

Steel shipments totaled 90.88 million in 2017.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported that shipments of steel products rose by 5 percent last year, as compared to the 86.5 million tons shipped the previous year.

Shipments are a key metric of the financial health of the U.S. steel industry since they reflect the amount of steel actually sold to customers.

In December, U.S. steel mills shipped 7.3 million tons, a 1.2 percent decrease from the 7.4 million tons shipped in November but a 2.2 percent increase from the 7.1 million tons shipped the previous December.

Shipments of hot rolled sheets rose 6 percent in December, according to the AISI. That month, shipments of cold rolled sheets fell 7 percent and hot dipped galvanized sheets and strips declined by 8 percent.

The United States produced about 4.3 percent more steel last year than in 2016, ranking fourth internationally in steel output after China, Japan and India, according to the World Steel Association. But the domestic production of steel did not match the growth of demand in the United States, with imports making up the difference.

Imports of steel into the United States rose 15.4 percent to 38.1 million tons last year, according to the AISI. Finished steel imports grabbed a near-record 28 percent of the market share.

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Business reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.