Marathon's Run

U.S. Steel bids for an oil firm

The American steel industry has long been one of the periodic sick men of U.S. business, along with autos, housing and tires. Most steel plants are badly in need of modernization. Moreover, American firms are losing domestic markets to tough foreign competition. Only two weeks ago, U.S. Steel announced that it was going to court to block imports of low-priced foreign steel.

But despite those troubles, U.S. Steel last week announced that it was offering about $6.4 billion in cash and notes to acquire Marathon Oil, the 17th biggest American petroleum company. The deal ranks just...

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