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Steel production has risen by 5.7 percent this year

A train carrying molten iron passes in front of Blast Furnace No. 7 at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago. Great Lakes steel production rose to 713,000 tons last week.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 713,000 tons last week, the second straight week of a marginal increase of 1,000 tons.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 713,000 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.

Overall, domestic steel mills made 1.892 million tons of metal last week, down from the 1.906 million tons made the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 78.1 percent this year, up from 74.2 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 80.7 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Dec, 1, up from 73 percent at the same time a year ago but down from 81.3 percent a week prior, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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Some analysts say steel-making 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 in Northwest Indiana, because of their high fixed operating costs. But the capacity utilization rate has been significantly higher this year than during a downturn in the steel industry several years ago.

Nationally, as 25 percent Section 232 tariffs make imports more expensive, steel output is up by 5.7 percent this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute, a 0.1 percent increase as compared to the past week and the 14th straight week of increase.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, decreased to 676,000 tons last week, down from 683,000 tons the previous week.

Steel output in the greater Midwest dipped to 195,000 tons last week, down from 207,000 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.