US steel production falls by 10pc in last week

Posted on 31 March 2020

Source: Argus Media

US raw steel production fell by nearly 10pc in the last week, with capacity utilization down to levels not seen since April 2017 as some mills began idling because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Total output fell by 182,000 short tons (st) to 1.67mn st during the week ended 28 March. Steel output fell by 13pc compared with the same week last year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI).

Steel capacity utilization fell to 71.6pc in the latest week, down from 79.4pc in the prior week and 82.2pc in the same week a year earlier.

The production figures are the lowest since January 2017, while the capacity utilization rate is the lowest since April 2017.

Steel mills were hit with coronavirus-related automobile manufacturing shutdowns two weeks ago, with all US automakers announcing some level of shutdown as demand fell as local and state governments imposed shelter-in-place orders in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease.

Multiple flat rolled steel mills — primarily integrated steelmakers AK Steel, ArcelorMittal, and US Steel —announced idlings of a combined four blast furnaces in the US last week totaling more than 5mn st/yr of production.

Steel production in the south saw the biggest drop, falling by 73,000st to 645,000st. The Great Lakes was not far behind, with production declining by 69,000st to 608,000st.

Midwestern production fell by 29,000st to 155,000st, while northeastern production fell by 12,000st to 202,000st.

Production in the west rose by 1,000st to 60,000st.

Total US production so far this year fell by 228,000st to 23.65mn st compared with the same period last year, the first time this year that overall production has dipped below 2019's volumes. Average capacity utilization year-to-date was 80.7pc, compared with 81.6pc in the same period of 2019.

AISI's raw steel production tonnage is estimated and compiled using weekly data provided by 50pc of domestic producers and monthly data for the remainder. 

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