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Local steel production falls by 13,000 tons

A worker monitors the hot strip mill at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor.

Great Lakes steel production dropped to 663,000 tons last week, a 1.92 percent decrease as compared to the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 676,000 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 1.776 million tons of metal last week, a 1.42 percent decrease compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 75.4 percent so far this year, up from 74.6 percent at the same point in 2017.

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Domestic steelmakers used about 76.2 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended March 31, down from 77.4 percent the previous week but up from 73.6 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 declined by 27,000 tons last week, but is up 1 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, fell to 667,000 tons last week, down from 686,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest dipped to 168,000 tons last week, down from 170,000 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.