Due to the involved nature of blast-furnace restarts, this activity often signals improvements in the steel industry. This week, ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor East No. 5 blast furnace began iron production after an eight-month shutdown.
    In Japan, Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd. began operations of a new blast furnace in Wakayama, the first such launch in Japan by any steelmaker since 2004. Additionally, Nippon Steel Corp. plans an August restart for a previously suspended blast furnace.
    According to the American Iron and Steel Institute,
U.S. steel mills operated at 50.9% capacity in the week ending July 11, and it was the first time production topped 50% in 2009.