Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region jumped to 658,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.
Production rose by about 16,000 tons, or about 2.5 percent, from the week prior. Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.
Production in the Southern District was estimated at 624,000 tons, down from 641,000 tons a week earlier.
Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.82 million tons, down from 1.83 million tons a week earlier.
U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.1 percent last week, down from 76.6 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 76.5 percent at the same time last year.
Capacity fell to 31.5 million compared to 32.7 million tons a year earlier, because of the closure of steelmaking facilities.
Domestic mills have produced an estimated 6.5 million tons of steel this year, roughly the same as what they produced during same period last year. The mills had made about 2,000 more tons by Jan. 25, 2013.
So far in 2014, things are looking up, said Richard Chriss, executive director of the American Institute for International Steel.
"With regard to the steel markets, the hopeful news is that the normal, seasonal positive aspects of the market seem to have returned in early 2014," he said. "Whether this welcome seasonal cycle and inventory restocking is not known at this point. The improvement in pricing has created opportunities for imports."