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I TOPICS OF THE DAY. I

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THE great depression existing in the iron and steel trade of the country is shown by the Bord of Trade returns issued the week. The quantity of iron rails exported last month was 1,745 tons; and this compared favourably with the export of December 1883, which was only 1,087 tons. But taking the whole of last year, we find the export was only 15,581 tons, compared with 24,306 tons in 1883, and 46,824' tons in 1882. The average value per ton of the iron rails exported last year was 1£6148 Id the average value per ton of those exported in 1883 was £7 Is 2d, showing not only that the total quantity, but the average value per ton had largely decreased. When we turn to steel rtils we find the figures still more ominous. The export of steel rails last month was 277 tons, as compared with 54,221 tons in Dec. 1883, and 46,503 tons in Dec. 1882. For the whole of 1884, the export of steel rails was 526,169 tons value 92,834,639; 1833-754,108 tons, valued, 421,695 tons; 1882-734,959 tons, value £ 4,834.237. The average value per ton in the three several years was thus- 1882, £ 6 lis 6d 1383, L-5 17s 3d 1884, £ 5 9:5 7d" These figures show the steel trade to be in anything but a prosperous condition in this country. A decrease of over 50 per cent. last year, as compared with with the exnorts of 1883, and a further de- crease of 7s 3d in the average price per ton is by no means a cheerful state of things for "conternplation by steelworkers.

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