U.S. Steel Corp., the nation's largest steel maker, announced yesterday that it would raise prices 4.8 per cent on its tin mill products, used extensively in making cans for fruits, vegetables, soups and beverages.
The company said the increase would be effective Mar. 13. Tin mill products account for about 7 per cent of the company's sales and the increases will raise its revenues by less than 0.5 per cent.
A U.S. Steel spokesman said the steel giant had been in touch with Carter administration officials before making the announcement, but did not say who.
The Council on Wage and Price Stability, the White House inflation-monitoring agency which President Carter has promised to strengthen, had no comment on the price increase. A spokesman said the steel company had not contacted the wage-price rise.
The nation's major steel companies, including U.S., raised prices on sheet and strip products by 6 per cent last December and ran headlong into heavy criticism from the Ford administration.
Carter, then President-elect was also mildy critical of the steel price hikes but backed off a confrontation and left the Ford administration to handle it after steel leaders said they would meet with Carter to explain the price increases.
Sheet and strip is used in making consumer products such as automobiles and appliances and is the most important product of the steel industry - accounting for more than 40 per cent of steel shipments.
The Council on Wage and Price Stability said that while the increases could be justified by higher costs, demand for steel products was so low that the rises would not be accepted by the market.
Apparently the council was wrong.
U. S. Steel made a similar cost justification argument in announcing its tin mill product increase yesterday.
It said that in the past two-and-a-half years, "costs of producing tin mill products have increased by about 15 per cent more than has been recovered by price action." The company said the increase announced yesterday still does not cover rising production costs.
The company also said the increase would have a negligible impact on inflation. The price boosts announced yesterday would raise the price of a can of soup by 0.15 cents.
The steel industry traditionally adjusts prices on tin mill products about this time of year, before the packing season begins.
The Aluminum Company of America, the largest aluminum producer, raised the price of aluminum can stock by between 1.5 and 6 cents a pound, effective Monday.