This Morning in Metals: US steel capacity utilization up to 82.4%, steel prices cool

This morning in metals news: U.S. steel capacity utilization ticked up to 82.4% last week, as steel prices continue to cool; meanwhile, Nucor Corporation announced it is expanding its production footprint by acquiring majority ownership of California Steel Industries; and, lastly, U.S. stainless steel imports declined in October.
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US steel capacity utilization hits 82.4%

steel production
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The U.S. steel capacity utilization rate rose to 82.4% for the week ending Dec. 11, the American Iron and Steel Institute reported this week.
The rate increased from 81.9% the previous week.
U.S. steel output reached 1.82 million tons last week, up 0.6% from the previous week. Meanwhile, output in the year to date is up 19.4% to 89.9 million tons.
Meanwhile, U.S. steel prices continue to cool after rising for more than a year.
U.S. hot rolled coil reached $1,731 per short ton last week, or down 6.9% month over month, according to MetalMiner Insights data. Cold rolled coil fell 1.9% to $2,086 per short ton. Hot dipped galvanized fell 4.4% to $2,105 per short ton.

Nucor to acquire California Steel Industries

In M&A news, U.S. steelmaker Nucor announced it is acquiring a majority stake in California Steel Industries.

The company will be a joint venture between Nucor and JFE Steel Corporation.
“Acquiring a majority ownership stake in California Steel Industries expands our geographic reach in sheet steel and gives us a strong presence on the West Coast,” said Leon Topalian, President & Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation. “This acquisition will grow our portfolio of value-added sheet products, provide opportunities for increased internal shipments and enable us to provide our downstream businesses in the region such as Verco and Hannibal Industries with sheet steel products. We look forward to continuing to grow with our partners at JFE.”
California Steel Industries produces more than 2 million tons of finished steel and steel products annually. The company produces five different product lines: hot rolled, pickled and oiled, galvanized, and cold rolled sheet, and electric resistance welded pipe.
Nucor already operates an automotive steel joint venture with JFE in Mexico. That facility produces 400,000 tons of galvanized steel per year, Nucor said.

US stainless steel imports decline in October

Through the first 10 months of the year, U.S. stainless steel imports are up 71% year over year to 965,969 tons, the Census Bureau reported earlier this month.
However, October stainless steel imports declined 44% month over month to 81,707 tons.
Meanwhile, cold rolled sheet imports fell 54% month over month to 12,894 tons.
By source, imports from Canada declined 6.9% month over month to 697,228 tons. Meanwhile, imports from Mexico increased by a similar tonnage to the Canadian decline, rising 12.2% to 451,134 tons.
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