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Steel shipments rose 4.8 percent last year

One of the blast furnaces is shown at ArcelorMittal steel mill in Burns Harbor. Steel shipments rose 4.8 percent last year because of tariffs and improved market conditions.

Section 232 tariffs of 25 percent on all foreign-made steel and stronger steel market conditions helped lift domestic steelmakers' fortunes last year.

Steel shipments, the amount of steel sold to customers, rose by 4.8 percent year-over-year in 2018, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. The Washington D.C.-based trade association reported that U.S. steel mills shipped out 95.27 million net tons of steel last year, up from about 90.88 tons in 2017.

In December, American steel mill shipped 7.8 million tons of steel, according to the AISI. That was down 0.4 percent as compared to the 7.83 million tons shipped in November but up 6.5 percent as compared to the 7.32 million tons shipped in December of 2017.

In the final month of 2018, shipments of hot-rolled sheets rose by 2 percent while shipments of cold-rolled sheets and hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip both declined by 6 percent.

Growth in shipments helped U.S. Steel nearly triple its annual profit to $1.1 billion last year and ArcelorMittal USA post its best year since 2007. The multinational Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, one of the Region's largest employers, grew overall profit by 12.7 percent to $5.1 billion.

Both U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal forecast that strong market conditions would carry into 2019, but cautioned that, while volumes remain robust, steel prices have been softening for months.

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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.