US steel capacity utilization dips slightly to 77.3%

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The US steel sector’s capacity utilization rate has consistently posted gains since a trough last spring at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This past week, however, the capacity utilization rate fell slightly.

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Capacity utilization dips to 77.3%

The US steel sector’s capacity utilization rate fell to 77.3% for the week ending March 20, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported this week.

Steel output during the week totaled 1.75 million net tons. The figure marked an increase of 0.7% year over year. Meanwhile, output declined 0.5% from the previous week, when capacity utilization reached 77.7%.

As for the year to date, production reached 19.6 million net tons. Capacity utilization during the period reached 76.8%. Production during the period fell 6.2% from the same time frame in 2020, when the rate reached 79.6%.

By region, production for the week ending March 20, 2021, totaled:

  • Northeast: 164,000 tons
  • Great Lakes: 620,000 tons
  • Midwest: 184,000 tons
  • Southern: 724,000 tons
  • Western: 61,000 tons

Steel price gains

We’ve recently posed the question about steel prices and whether or not we may be nearing a peak. Capacity utilization has seemingly hit a wall, settling in just a few percentage points below the 80% threshold. It remains to be seen if steelmakers will add new supply, as they continue to reap the benefits of high prices in a tight market.

For now, though, the peak still seems far away.

The US hot rolled coil price surged to $1,271 per short ton Monday. The price is up 8.82% from a month ago.

Meanwhile, US cold rolled coil posted similar gains, up 7.82% over the month to $1,447 per short ton. US hot dipped galvanized is up, too, albeit by slightly less, gaining by 5.97% to $1,545 per short ton.

Plate reached $1,106 per short ton, or up 6.76%.

Furthermore, steel wire rod prices have surged by 24.19% over the month, reaching $48.77/cwt.

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