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Great Lakes steel production rises by 22,000 tons

Steel coil stacked outside Wheatland Tube in Chicago.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 655,000 tons last week, a 3.47 percent increase as compared to the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 633,000 tons of metal the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Most of the steel made in the Great Lakes region is produced around the southern shore of Lake Michigan in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.834 million tons of metal last week, a 2.8 percent increase compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 74.5 percent so far this year, down from 75.1 percent at the same point in 2017.

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Domestic steelmakers, however, used about 78.7 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended March 3, up from 76.5 percent the previous week and also up from 74.9 percent at the same time a year ago, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Some analysts say steelmaking capacity utilization of about 90 percent is considered financially healthy for the industry, at least for the larger integrated mills like those around Lake Michigan because of their high fixed costs.

U.S. national steel output rose by 51,000 tons last week, but is still down 0.8 percent so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills and which is usually the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, rose to 724,000 tons last week, up from 699,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest rose to 169,000 tons last week, up from 161,000 tons the previous week.

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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.