If it's lucky, the U.S. steel industry will soon be recovering from last year's import crisis. But a lot of pieces need to fall into place: The economy must chug ahead and sustain demand for cars, appliances, and new buildings. And foreign producers will have to ease up on exports and allow the current inventory bloat to thin out. That won't happen overnight. "The first part of 1999 will continue to hurt, but things should fall in line by the second half," predicts Mark L. Parr, senior vice-president and steel analyst at McDonald Investments.

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