US steel capacity utilization rises to 77.0%, steel prices continue to rise

hot rolled steel
niteenrk/Adobe Stock

The US steel sector capacity utilization rate ticked up to 77.0% for the week ending Feb. 20, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) reported.

Steel capacity utilization gains

US steel production during the week ending Feb. 20 totaled 1.75 million net tons, AISI reported.
The total marked a 7.2% year-over-year decline. Furthermore, the weekly output total dipped 0.1% from the previous week.
Capacity utilization the previous week reached 76.9%. Meanwhile, for the same week in 2020, steel capacity utilization reached 81.3%.
Furthermore, production through Feb. 20, 2021, totaled 12.6 million net tons. Capacity utilization during the period reached 76.1%.
The output total marked an 8.5% year-over-year decline from the same period in 2020, when the rate reached 81.9%.
By region, production for the week ending Feb. 20, 2021, totaled:

  • Northeast: 153,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 637,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 183,000 net tons
  • Southern: 700,000 net tons
  • Western: 72,000 net tons

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Raw steel production index continues to rise

The Federal Reserve’s industrial production index for raw steel has been gaining since bottoming out last May.
The index fell to a 2020 low of 65.6795 in May (an index reading of 100 is equivalent to 2012 activity).

raw steel industrial production chart from Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), Industrial Production: Manufacturing: Durable Goods: Raw Steel

In December, the index reached 92.1730.
In Q4 2018, the index reached over 106.4, its highest level since Q4 2011.

Steel price gains

Steel prices have continued to gain, as some end users deal with challenges in securing supply for their operations.
HRC, CRC and HDG prices have continued to increase in recent weeks. The US HRC price reached $1,168/st, up 8.25% from the previous month. Similarly, the CRC price increased 13.25% to $1,342/st. The HDG price jumped 8.0% to 1,458/st. 
Meanwhile, plate rose by 4.23% to $984/st $1,036/st. Wire rod fell 1.26% to $39.27/cwt. 
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