PRICES: Steel Steps Back

In a time of persistently rising prices, last week's announcement by U.S. Steel Corp. had a man-bites-dog quality. The company, which usually sets steel pricing patterns, had announced three weeks ago that on Oct. 1 it would raise the price of sheet steel, which is used in a wide variety of consumer goods from autos to washing machines, by an average of $10 to $15 a ton. U.S. Steel's competitors quickly followed its lead. But then Armco Steel Corp., in an extraordinary move for the clubby steel business, broke the united front and said it was deferring its planned increases...

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