Metals

With Washington's help, the U.S. steel industry has beaten back a devastating flood of cheap foreign imports. A robust economy, led by extraordinary demand for autos, has also helped bring prices and earnings back to healthy levels. This year, the industry is poised to build on 1999's gains. But Big Steel's big question still looms: Will it finally bite the bullet and undergo a long-overdue consolidation, just as aluminum did?

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