Betting that the economy can support a steel-price increase, Bethlehem Steel Corp. has told its customers it will raise the listed price of flat-rolled steel 1.7 percent to 2.9 percent effective July 5.
The modest price increase comes after two years of declines equal to 3 percent annually, which have returned steel prices to their 1981 level. But one analyst said the time might be ripe for a price increase.
"The environment hasn't been this good in two years," said Michael M. Via, director of research for Anderson & Strudwick Inc., a brokerage in Richmond, Va. He cited an increase in customers at automobile showrooms and a 16 percent jump in sales of major appliances in March. "There's a better chance than there had been" for an increase to take hold, he said.