Steel capacity utilization continues recent gains, moves to 58.9%

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Steel production
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The U.S. steel sector has slowly but surely been showing some signs of recovery.

Steel mills operated at a capacity utilization rate of 58.9% for the week ending July 25, up from 58.3% the previous week, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

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Steel production rises 1.1% week over week

Steel production last week reached 1.32 million net tons, marking a 28.5% year-over-year decline but a 1.1% increase from the previous week (when the capacity utilization rate reached 58.3%).

The capacity rate for the week ending July 25, 2019, reached 79.4%.

Year-to-date production (through July 25, 2020) totaled 44.55 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 66.1%. Production in the year to date is down 20% from the 55.70 million net tons during the same period last year (which came at a capacity utilization rate of 80.9%).

By region, production for the week ending July 25, 2020, totaled:

  • Northeast: 133,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 471,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 129,000 net tons
  • Southern: 524,000 net tons
  • Western: 63,000 net tons

Falling steel imports

Late last week, AISI reported U.S. imports of steel through the first half of 2020 declined 20.8% year over year.

Through the first six months of 2020, total steel imports reached 12.39 million net tons, down 20.8% year over year.

Finished steel import market share reached an estimated 21% in June and was estimated at 19% over the first six months of 2020.

Through the first half of 2020, imports of line pipe and oil country goods saw the steepest declines, falling 65.3% and 46.6%, respectively.

In June, however, line pipe imports jumped 30.2% compared with May imports. June imports of strip hot dipped galvanized jumped 23.3% from the previous month.

By top offshore sources, South Korea led the way with 187,000 net tons sent to the U.S., which marked a 19% decline.

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Trailing South Korea were:

  • Germany (79,000 net tons, up 22%)
  • Taiwan (65,000 net tons, down 22%)
  • Japan (61,000 net tons, down 41%)
  • China (39,000 net tons, up 13%)

Meanwhile, for the first six months of 2020, South Korea was also the largest offshore supplier, sending 1.12 million net tons, down 23% year over year.

Through the six-month period, South Korea was trailed by:

  • Japan (434,000 net tons, down 40%),
  • Germany (377,000 net tons, down 39%)
  • Taiwan (333,000 net tons, down 36%)
  • Turkey (323,000 net tons, up 66%)

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