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Steel shipments surged by 28.7% in August
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Steel shipments surged by 28.7% in August

Steel shipments surged by 28.7% in August

Steel coil is stacked at Alliance Steel in Gary.

U.S. steel mills shipped 8.4 million tons of steel in August, the most recent month for which data is available, according to Washington D.C.-based trade association the American Iron and Steel Institute.

That's a 28.7% increase as compared to the 6.03 million tons shipped in August 2020 and a 1.5% increase as compared to the 8.27 million tons shipped in July.  

The steel industry is hailing a long-discussed and long-awaited infrastructure plan that would pump $2 trillion into the nation's roads, bridges, railways and ports. United Steelworkers International President Tom Conway said the plan — expected to drive up demand for steel — is ambitious and far-reaching.

Steel shipments are a key metric of the financial health of the steel industry, as they reflect the amount of steel actually sold to customers, such as automakers, appliance manufacturers and service centers that process the steel for a wide variety of end uses.

Though the end of August, shipments of corrosion-resistant sheet and strip were up 23%, cold-rolled sheet 17% and hot-rolled sheet up 11%.

So far this year, steel mills in the United States have shipped 62.65 million tons of steel, up 16.5% as compared to the 53.45 million tons of steel shipped in the first eight months of 2020. Automotive plants, one of the largest customers of steel, have been suffering from intermittent shutdowns because of a global semiconductor shortage and may produce as many as a few million fewer vehicles this year, industry analysts project.

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Though shipments are still down year-over-year, steel prices remain at near-record levels after Cleveland-Cliffs subsumed much of the American steel industry in the latest round of consolidation.

The price of hot-rolled band was up 2% to $2,143 a ton in August, according to the steel pricing website Steelbenchmarker. Cold-rolled coil increased 1% to $2,312 a ton, while standard plate rose 7% to $1,827 a ton. With Section 232 tariffs on most foreign steel, the latest round of consolidation that increases leverage and strong demand as the economy recovers from coronavirus, steel prices have far exceeded previous records set in 2008.

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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.

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