Domestic raw steel production was up last week for the third consecutive week, according to a new report from Majestic Steel. U.S. steel mills produced an around 1,240k tons of steel at a 55.4 percent utilization rate, compared to 1,224k tons and a 54.6 percent rate previously.

"Production has now climbed over 8 percent since bottoming in mid- May," the report reads. "Production increased in four of the five regions, with the largest increase (in tons) coming from the Northeast region."

In the Northeast region, steel making climbed from 111k tons to 123k tons. Year-to-date production is now 17.9 percent below the same time frame from last year.

Notable in this increase of production is NLMK USA, which resumed rolling at its flat-rolled steel mill in Portage, Indiana on Monday, June 29, after a planned maintenance outage. Additionally, US Steel announced the restart of its No. 6 blast furnace at Gary Works in northwest Indiana to meet increased automotive demand.

Construction Spending

Also from the Majestic Steel report, total spending on all construction projects continued to slide in May, down for the third consecutive month.

"Total construction spending came in at a $1.356 trillion rate in May, down 2.1 percent but up slightly from a $1.353 trillion rate in May 2019. While residential construction spending had the bigger decline on a month-over-month basis, it helped push the year-over-year spending higher."

According to Majestic, residential construction spending was up 1.1 percent last May, and non-residential spending was down 3.4 percent.

"This was the first year-over-year decline for non-residential spending since October." 

Unemployment Claims

As expected, weekly initial jobless claims are still above 1 million for the 15th consecutive week as U.S. economies feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"The Department of Labor’s Weekly Initial Jobless Claims report came in at 1,427,000 claims, down from 1,482,000 claims previously. This brings the rolling total since mid-March to 48.5 million claims, however claims have now dropped for thirteen consecutive weeks."

With unemployment benefits expiring at the end of July, jobless claims aren't expected to rebound entirely according to Majestic. The four-week moving average, considered a better measure of the labor market as it irons out week-to-week volatility, decreased to 1,503,750, from 1,621,250 claims previously.

"Continuing claims, or claims lasting longer than one week, decreased for the fifth time since the pandemic started. Continuing claims dropped slightly to 19.290 million, down from 20.231 million previously. At the state level, Indiana saw a spike of 24,033 initial claims, while Virginia and Washington, saw claims rise by 7,769 and 8,110, respectively."

Iron Ore Pricing

"Spot iron ore pricing decreased this week after climbing three out of the previous four weeks. Spot iron ore pricing ended the week at $100.75/mt, down from $104.60/mt a week ago. This is down slightly from its highest point since July 2019 the week prior." 

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