US steel production steady as imports ramp up to start the year

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steel

gui yong nian/Adobe Stock

The US steel sector’s capacity utilization rate posted another incremental gain — this past week rising to 77.7% — as steel production remains steady, but buyers continue to face challenges in securing supply.

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Steel production reaches 1.76M net tons

Steel production reached 1.76 million net tons for the week ending March 13, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported.

The 77.7% capacity rate during the week marked an increase from 77.4% the previous week.

Meanwhile, for the same week a year ago, steel production reached 1.74 million net tons at a capacity utilization rate of 75.3%.

For the year to date, steel production totaled 17.87 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 76.7%. Output this year is down 6.8% from the same period last year, when capacity utilization reached 79.6%.

By region, steel production for the week ending March 13 totaled:

  • Northeast: 154,000 net tons
  • Great Lakes: 627,000 net tons
  • Midwest: 182,000 net tons
  • Southern: 735,000 net tons
  • Western: 63,000 net tons

US steel prices on the rise

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, steel prices have continued to rise.

Buying organizations continue to face significant challenges in securing supply, as producers have not ramped up steel production enough to meet the strong demand environment.

Buyers opting to import face delays due to port congestion and, in many cases, a lack of available shipping containers.

Nonetheless, steel imports surged in January.

According to the Census Bureau, US steel imports totaled 2.2 million net tons, up from 1.4 million net tons in January.

The January total is down from the 2.9 million net tons imported in January 2020.

US HRC closed Monday at $1,249 per short ton, or up 8.04% from the previous month.

Meanwhile, US HDG closed at $1,518 per short ton, or up 5.49% from the previous month. Cold rolled coil picked up 7.36% to $1,429 per short ton.

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