U.S. steel sector capacity utilization rate dips to 61.7% last week

After a long stretch of weekly increases, the U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate fell last week.
According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), U.S. steel mills produced at a capacity utilization rate of 61.7% for the week ending Aug. 29. The rate marked a decline from the 63.0% recorded for the week ending Aug. 22.
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Output drops 2.1%

In terms of tonnage, production last week reached 1.38 million net tons, down 2.1% from the previous week.
On a year-over-year basis, production last week fell 24.9%. During the same week in 2019, production totaled 1.84 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 79.1%.
For the year to date (through Aug. 29), production reached 51.84 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 66.0%.
The year-to-date total marked a 20.1% year-over-year decrease from last year’s 64.92 million net tons (when the capacity utilization rate reached 80.7%).

Production by region

Meanwhile, broken down by region, production for the week ending Aug. 29, 2020, totaled:

  • Northeast: 113,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 478,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 162,000 net tons
  • Southern: 556,000 net tons
  • Western: 74,000 net tons

Price movements

Despite a recovery in automotive demand, not much else has supported steel prices of late.
In late August, however, steel prices did show some signs of upward movement.
For example, after falling to $454/st as of Aug. 20, U.S. HRC closed last week at $486/st. The U.S. HRC price is up 2.32% from the previous month.
Similarly, U.S. HDG traded sideways for much of August. After sitting at around $698/st for much of the month, the price closed last week at $736/st. The U.S. HDG price is up 3.66% month over month.
Finally, the U.S. HRC price also traded sideways for most of August. The price sat at around $640/st for much of the month before ticking up last week, closing at $660/st. On a month-over-month basis, however, the price fell modestly (by 0.9%).
Further analysis and commentary regarding both the U.S. and Chinese steel markets will appear in the September Monthly Metal Outlook (MMO) report, which will be released Tuesday, Sept. 1.
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