Steel shipments up 2.8 percent this year

A semitrailer hauling steel coils is pictured. Steel shipments are up 2.8 percent this year.

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U.S. mills shipped 7.48 million tons in July, which was down 3.3 percent from the previous month but up 1.7 percent as compared to July 2016, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

So far this year, domestic steelmakers have shipped out about 52.9 million tons of steel, a 2.8 percent increase over the 51.4 million tons shipped during the first seven months of 2016. Steel shipments are a key metric of the overall health of the steel industry because they reflect the amount of metal actually sold to customers.

In July, shipments of hot dipped galvanized sheets and strip declined by 3 percent year-over-year, and shipments of cold rolled sheets fell by 4 percent over the same period. Shipments of hot-rolled sheets dipped by 6 percent as compared to July 2016.

So far this year, U.S. steel mills have produced 60.9 million tons of steel at a capacity utilization rate of 74.6 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. That's a 3.2 percent increase over the 59 million tons of steel manufactured during the same period in 2016.

Indiana has led the nation in steel production for 42 consecutive years, producing 27 percent of all American steel last year. Most of it is made in Northwest Indiana, in the big integrated mills that line the Lake Michigan shoreline.

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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.