Business: Steel Fights Murphy's Law

Prices and imports rise; output and earnings sink

Whatever U.S. industry generally does, steel these days seems to do the opposite. Through most of the recession that ended in mid-1975, steel profits climbed. But now, in the midst of recovery, steelmakers seem to be caught in the grip of Murphy's Law: if anything can go wrong, it will. They are beset by production cutbacks and layoffs, Government pressure to restrain price increases while spending heavily to comply with antipollution rules, and the industry's first sizable strike (by iron-ore workers) since 1959. Executives have also...

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