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Steel shipments rise by 4.1 percent

A semitrailer hauling steel coils.

Steel shipments rose 4.1 percent in February as compared to February 2017, and are up by 1.5 percent year-over-year so far in 2018, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Shipments are one of the most crucial metrics of the overall financial health of the steel industry since they reflect the amount of metal that's actually been sold to customers.

The AISI reported U.S. steel mills shipped 7.5 million tons in February, which was down 1.5 percent as compared to January but up by 4.1 percent over the 7.2 million tons shipped the same month the previous year. Shipments of hot dipped galvanized sheets and strip fell by 2 percent. Orders of cold rolled sheets declined by 3 percent, and hot rolled sheets by 5 percent.

So far in 2018, domestic mills like those around the South Shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana have shipped 15.1 million net tons of steel, a 1.5 percent increase as compared to the first two months of 2017.

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Domestic production has been rising along with prices.

U.S. steel prices rose for the 10th straight time in the week that ended March 26, rising 1.7 percent to $825 per ton, according to the steel industry data service Steel Benchmarker. That's up from $811 two weeks earlier, and from $412 in December 2015.

Cold-rolled steel is selling for $951 a ton and standard plate $924 east of the Mississippi River in the United States, according to Steel Benchmarker.

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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.