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Steel production up 1.9 percent this year

A bar of steel makes its way through the 80" hot strip mill on its way to becoming a coil of steel.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 658,000 tons the week that ended June 2, a 0.76 percent increase as compared to the previous week.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 653,000 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 1.755 million tons of metal two weeks ago, a decline of 1.9 percent as compared to the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 75.5 percent so far this year, up from 74.3 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

Domestic steelmakers used about 74.9 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended June 2, up from 74 percent at the same time a year ago but down from 76.3 percent the week prior, 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 fell by 34,000 tons two weeks ago, but is up 1.9 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 655,000 tons last week, down from 683,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest ticked down to 163,000 tons last week, down from 142,000 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.