Domestic raw steel production increased again this week, now up for the fifth consecutive week, according to a new report from Majestic Steel. U.S. mills produced an estimated 1,923k tons at an 82.5 percent utilization rate.

"This is up from 1,898k tons and an 82.0 percent rate previously. This is the highest weekly production output since May 2019," the Majestic Steel report reads. "Production increased in four of the five regions, with the largest increase (in tons) coming from the Southern region. Production from the Southern region climbed from 698k tons to 721k tons. Year-to-date production is now 1.2 percent above the same time frame from last year."

On the HVAC front, shipments slipped in November, sliding for the third consecutive month. According to the report, shipments totaled 1.411 million units, the lowest monthly total since November 2017. November 2019 shipments slipped 6.2 percent from October and were down 2.7 percent from November 2018.

"Shipments have now slipped on a y/y basis for three consecutive months. Shipments of A/C & heat pumps were the only to increase on a y/y basis, climbing 2.1 percent. Water heater and furnace shipments slipped 3.2 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively from last year. Year-to-date shipments now total 18.834 million units, down 1.2 percent from the same time frame last year."

Spot Iron Ore & Zinc Market Updates

Spot iron ore pricing increased again last week, now up for the third consecutive week. Spot iron ore pricing ended the week at $95.25/mt, up from $93.40/mt a week ago. "This is the highest price for iron ore since September 2019. Market sources said heavy rains hit Brazil in November and December, which impacted the supply of Brazilian iron ore," the report reads. "Vale shipments totaled 73.98 million metric tons in Q4 2019, down 22.3 percent year on year, according to data from Platts. Stockpiles of iron ore at Chinese ports dropped for the third consecutive week, sliding 1.3 mmt to 124.6 mmt."

Zinc pricing also increased last week, now up for the second consecutive week. Zinc pricing ended the week at $2,434/mt ($1.104/lb), up from $2,382/mt ($1.080/lb) previously.