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I TRADE REPORT. The prospects of the metal trades of the country are by no means so satisfactory as they were twelve months ago and it seems as if we had now to look forward to quieter times than we experienced during 1889 and 1890. There is a falling off in the demand for iron and steel all over the world, due probably to the cheek that high prices give a consumption, and to the shock given to the investing public and to credit generally by the failure of the gigantic house of Baring to meet its engagements without assistance. That failure was brought about by speculation in a country which has been, and we have no doubt will be again, a good customer for English iron and steel; when it has learned to govern itself properly. During the long period of depression, when investors were looking everywhere for profitable investments, and find: ing very few, the Argentine Republic held out the temptation of its rich natural resources and temperate climate to those who had money to lend. The bait was swallowed too freely, and as money came pouring in fast, and the Argentines had not learned the way to spent it properly, it resulted in the old principle of easy come, easy go" and fabulous sums were lavished on ornamental buildings, and on other things equally unrenumerative, which should have been spent on works necessary for the development of the country. The Argentine collapse, an increasing pro- duction, and a demand that was certainly not getting larger, have brought us past the high- water mark of the present cycle of prosperity but though we must face lower prices, and by and by a smaller volume of business, there is no reason to anticipate such a period of depression as we passed through five or six years ago. The world is at peace, people have confidence in the political situation of Europe, and we may reasonably hope that the spring will see, if not higher prices, yet a better demand than has quoted since the end of November. The pig iron market is depressed, and with the high price of fuel it must be a difficult thing for any makers, who are not favourably situated, to realize a fair margin of profit. Hematite iron is selling at little over 52s. f.o.b. west coast ports; and the unrenumerative character of these figures may be estimated by the fact that the liquidator of the Moss Bay C. has stopped the works, considering the loss inevitable in keeping the works idle, less than that incu rred by continuing in operation. The strike of blast furnace men in Scotland, which commenced in October, still continues only six furnaces being m blast instead of about eighty. Notwithstanding this, the price of Scotch pig iron is lower now than when the strike began. This fall in price can only be attributed to lessened consumption, to other descriptions of pig iron being used in the place of Scotch, and to the large stock even now about 600,000 tons— in Connel's stores. Middlesborough iron has fallen with Scotch, and stands to-day at 42s. 6d. f.o.b. in the Tees. Tinplates occupy a peculiar position. Owing to the somewhat restricted production of 1890, and the holding off of American buyers during the six months from February to July, and the consequent depletion of American stocks, and also to the desire on the part of our transatlantic customers to import all they can before the Mackinley Act, which doubles the duty on tin- plates, comes into operation. There is now a very brisk demand, which causes prices to keep a pretty high level, and manufacturers will doubtless succeed in selling anything they can make up to the first week in June at from 17s. to 18s. a box for Bessemer plates. After that, we must look forward to a couple of months of stagnation and low prices, with a fall- ing off in comaumption for the remainder of the year, if not beyond. Coal remains dear, much too dear for the price of iron. Steam coal has been sold forward over the greater part of this year at high prices, and we cannot expect any material reduction in prices for some time. Probably the last six months of the year will see a drop in bituminous coals.


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