After several weeks of 1 percent or so rises in output, steel production in the United States has enjoyed a relative growth spurt in September.
Domestic steel mills started September with output of 1.43 million tons the week ending Sept. 5, which marked a 3.3 percent increase from the previous week.
That has been followed by a 2.2 percent rise in output for the week ending Sept. 12, when nearly 1.46 million tons of steel were produced.
The rising domestic output, combined with early September buying from overseas mills, helped lift ferrous scrap prices by some $30 to $40 per ton in the early September buying period as measured by Midwest Index prices published by Fastmarkets AMM.
Throughout the summer, the steel industry in the U.S. did not ramp up its furnaces in anticipation of a rebound, instead waiting for a return of orders. Even after a good two-week run, output in the week ending Sept. 12 remains 19 percent lower compared with the same week in the previous year.
Year-to-date production through Sept. 12 sits at nearly 55 million tons, which is 20.1 percent less steel than was made in the same time frame in 2019.
In better news for the sector, the new weekly rebounds have boosted the mill capacity rate to 65.1 percent. That is a considerable improvement from the 51.1 percent capacity rate the week ending May 2—the COVID-19-related low point for the U.S. steel sector.