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Steel shipments rise 5.1% in July

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago on its way to becoming a coil of steel.

Steel mills across the United States shipped 5.1% more steel in July as compared to the previous month, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

American steel mills, including those in Northwest Indiana, which accounts for half the nation's blast furnace capacity, shipped 8.11 million tons of metal in July, the most recent month for which data was available, as compared to 7.71 million tons of steel shipped in June.

It's also a 2.6% year-over-year increase from the 7.91 million tons shipped in July 2018, according to the AISI. Shipments are a key metric of the financial health of the steel industry because they reflect the amount of steel actually sold to customers.

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So far this year, U.S. mills have shipped 56.33 tons of steel, a 2% increase as compared to the 55.2 million tons shipped over the first seven months of 2018, the Washington, D.C.-based trade association reported.

Though volumes are up, steel prices continue to creep down, pinching into the profitability of the steelmakers that operate the hulking integrated mills around Lake Michigan's South Shore.

Hot-rolled band fell 1% last week to $636 a ton, according to the steel pricing website Steelbenchmarker. Cold-rolled coil rose 1% a ton, while standard plate fell 7% to $806 a ton.

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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.