U.S. steel capacity utilization rate rises to 66.1%

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The U.S. steel sector’s capacity utilization rate rose to 66.1% for the week ending Sept. 26, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

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U.S. steel capacity utilization gains

The rate marked a 1.6 percentage point jump from the previous week, when it reached 64.5%.

Output during the week ending Sept. 26 totaled 1.48 million tons, up 2.4% from the previous week.

However, the weekly output total marked a 17.4% year-over-year decline. Output during the same week in 2019 totaled 1.80 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 77.4%.

YTD output down 20.1%

Meanwhile, aside from the U.S. steel capacity utilization rate, adjusted year-to-date production totaled 57.65 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 65.8%.

The year-to-date output total marked a 20.1% decline from the 72.13 million net tons produced during the same period last year. During that time frame in 2019, the capacity utilization rate reached 80.3%.

Output by region

Meanwhile, steel output for the week ending Sept. 26 by region totaled:

  • Northeast: 128,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 526,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 163,000 net tons
  • Southern: 590,000 net tons
  • Western: 73,000 net tons

Steel price gains

Steel prices have continued to show some upward momentum of late.

The U.S. HRC price has surged 20.37% over the last month, closing Thursday at $585 per short ton.

Meanwhile, the U.S. HDG price is up 15.22% over the last month, closing Thursday at $848 per short ton.

The U.S. CRC price is up 16.36% over the last month, closing Thursday at $768 per short ton. Automotive demand and recovery of durable goods orders have helped support the CRC price.

As the MetalMiner team explained earlier this week, Cleveland-Cliffs’ $1.4 billion purchase of ArcelorMittal USA could help support steel prices.

“Cliffs will likely shut down several facilities, reducing the overall capacity of the market and putting a dent in the “Steelmageddon” thesis (i.e., that a surge in U.S. capacity would depress prices),” MetalMiner’s analysis explained.

“This move gives the market some long-term price stability.

“Meanwhile, in the short term, the Cleveland-Cliff acquisition will have little fundamental impact on prices. However, the deal could trigger future buying panic, sparking off a rapid price increase.”

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