US domestic raw steel production decreased to 1.852mn nt (1.681mn mt) with a capability utilization of 79.4pc during the week ending March 21, 2020, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) data.
Production declined by 1.4pc from the previous week, and by 3.2pc compared to the same period in 2019.
This is the first week that the utilization rate dropped below 80pc since the second week of December 2019. A year ago, the only utilization period below 80pc was during the week ended January 12, 2019, when it was at 79.8pc. However, for the quarter it strengthened to 82-83pc. The week was affected by early production adjustments stemming from COVID-19-induced social distancing policies, which have forced some closures and personnel reductions. At minimum, the following few weeks are expected to continue below the 80pc utilization threshold preferred by the industry.
Adjusted year-to-date production through March 21, 2020 hit 21.983mn nt, with a capability utilization rate of 81.5pc, which increased by 0.1pc from 21.968mn nt during the same period last year, when the capability utilization rate was 81.6pc. The estimated total industry capacity of 26.973mn nt is 51,000nt higher than the total capacity of 26,922mn a year ago.
By district, the North East produced 214,000nt, which is consistent with the volume produced during the same week in 2019. The Great Lakes declined by 5pc to 677,000nt; the Midwest and South declined by 3pc to 184,000nt and 718,000nt, respectively; and the West dropped by 24pc to 59,000nt.