The total tonnage for the week ending July 14th was 1,783 million tons, (Mt) at a capacity utilization rate of 776.1%. For the first 28 weeks of 2018, total tonnage output was 49,435 Mt, at an average capacity utilization rate of 75.5%. In 2017, the same 28 weeks production total was 48,566 Mt at 73.8%. Thus volume was up 1.8% year on year, (y/y), while capacity utilization was higher, up 1.7 percentage points.
Figure 1 shows production on the left-hand scale and capacity utilization as a percent on the right-hand scale. Capacity utilization and production increased compared to this time last month, up 1.9 percentage points and 2.5% m/m respectively.
Figure 2 presents a map of the U.S. with its five steel producing zones. The nation as a whole produced 1.8% more steel than for the same period in 2017. The Great Lakes region was the largest steel producing region, with 18.434 Mt through July 14th, down 0.3% y/y. The Southern region habitually the second largest, produced 18.353 Mt up 5.0% y/y. At 5.934 Mt, the Northeast region ranked third largest. The Northeast tonnage moved-up by 1.7% y/y. The Midwest produced 4.669 Mt, up 0.4% y/y, while the Western zone produced 2.045 Mt, down 3.2% y/y.
Looking at raw steel production on a twelve month moving total, (12MMT) basis, we see that; The Great Lakes region produced 34,163 Mt, up 0.5% y/y. The Southern zone made 33,613 Mt, up 8.9% y/y. The Northeast region produced 10,833 Mt for a 2.3% increase y/y. The Midwest generated 8,590 Mt, up 1.2% y/y. The Western region produced 3,776 Mt, 0.1% higher on a y/y basis. Total U.S. production, (12MMT) was 90,975 Mt, up 3.7% y/y.
At Gerdau, we track US steel production and capacity utilization to keep an eye on the overall health of the US steel industry. We feel it is important to understand the forces that influence steel demand to include the strength of the US economy and import penetration.