Business: Steel's Angry Ballet

The steps: first rise high, then split and roll back

With the growing use of lighter metals and plastics, steel is no longer the dominant performer in the economy that it once was, but its price rises still bring confrontations with Washington. Government officials know that other industries watch steel for clues to the size of price increases they can get away with. The confrontations have become a ritualized ballet. A steel company announces a towering jump in prices; Washington denounces it; another company posts a smaller increase; the original raise is trimmed down....

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