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U.S. steel production up 3.5 percent so far 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. The Great Lakes region produced 698,000 tons of steel next week.

Great Lakes steel production rose to 698,000 tons last week, an increase of 13,000 tons, or 1.89 percent.

Steel mills in the Great Lakes region made 685,000 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 1.828 million tons of metal last week, down from the 1.836 million tons made the previous week.

U.S. steel mills have run at a capacity utilization rate of 76.8 percent so far this year, up from 74.4 percent at the same point in 2017, according to the AISI.

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Domestic steelmakers used about 78 percent of their steelmaking capacity in the week that ended Aug. 4, up from 75.2 percent at the same time a year ago but down from 78.3 percent a 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 in Northwest Indiana because of their high fixed operating costs.

Nationally, as 25 percent Section 232 tariffs make imports more expensive, U.S. steel output is up by 3.5 percent so far this year, up dramatically from 3.1 percent the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production in the Southern district, a wide geographic swath that includes many mini mills, plunged to 653,000 tons last week, down from 684,000 tons the previous week. Steel output in the greater Midwest dropped to 180,000 tons last week, down from 190,000 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.