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U.S. steel production up 0.4 percent

A sheet of metal runs through a hot rolling mill at U.S. Steel Gary Works in Gary. 

The United States produced an estimated 6.4 million tons of steel in February, a 0.4 percent year-over-year increase, according to the World Steel Association.

The Brussels-based trade group estimates the 64 steelmaking countries around the globe cranked out 131.8 million tons of steel in February, up 3.5 percent as compared to the same time last year. The global steel industry operated at a capacity utilization rate of 73.3 percent, 1.8 percentage points higher than in February 2017. Capacity utilization also was 0.5 percentage points higher compared to January, but remains far lower than the 90 percent analysts generally consider healthy for the industry, especially the big integrated mills like those that ring the south shore of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana.

China again nearly made half the world's steel, producing 64.9 million tons, a 5.9 percent year-over-year jump.

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Internationally, steel output rose by 8.7 percent in Turkey, 5.5 percent in Brazil, 3.4 percent in Italy, 4.5 percent in Italy, 1 percent in France, 0.5 percent in Japan and 0.4 percent in Spain. South Korea, which agreed to cut exports to the United States by 30 percent to duck a 25 percent tariff, was the only major steel-producing nation where steel production declined in February. It dropped 2.1 percent to 5.4 million tons.

The World Steel Association tracks 85 percent of the world's steel production, including 160 different steelmaker and nine of the 10 largest steel companies in the world.

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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.