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Steel production up 4.4 percent this year

A view from the control room shows a bar of steel making its way through the 80" hot strip mill at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor on its way to becoming a coil of steel.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 639,000 tons last week, an increase of 1.75 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 628,000 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 in Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

So far this year, U.S. steelmakers have produced 88.46 million tons of steel, about 4.4 percent more than the 84.7 million tons they made during the same period in 2016. Domestic steel mills have been running at 74.4 percent capacity so far this year, up from 70.5 percent through the same time a year ago.

Domestic steelmakers used about 73.7 percent of their steelmaking capacity for the week ending Dec. 23, up from 72.8 percent the previous week and up from 67.8 percent at the same time a year earlier, 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.

Overall, U.S. national steel output rose by 20,000 tons last week to 1.71 million tons, an increase of 1.17 percent from 1.69 million tons the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, nearly always the second largest steelmaking region after the Great Lakes, rose to 640,000 tons last week, up from 623,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the Midwest declined to 162,000 tons last week, a decrease from 167,000 tons produced a week earlier.

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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.