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03Sep92 UK: BRIGHTER GLINT FOR STEEL PRICE HOPES.

Steel prices rose 2 per cent in the three months to July reversing the downward trend in the past two years.Prices are still not viable for the industry, said the British Constructional Steelwork Association, but it added that its analysis shows the tide has turned.The collapse of steelwork contractors - such as Graham Wood, a major player in the sector which went into receivership in July - has trimmed supply, said BCSA president Allan Collins.But he said there was a more realistic attitude on the part of main contractors, which now feel concerned about the stability not just of steel suppliers but all main suppliers.Lead times are still low, the BCSA research shows; less than 10 weeks for deliveries that in former years could have taken more than 16 weeks.Mr Collins said the new technology in place should keep lead times down even as volumes increase.Steelwork contractors are still a long way from profitability. According to Mr Collins: 'There are still some silly prices in the marketplace.'There will have to be continuing improvement. It'll happen one way or another.' He said squeezing steelwork contractors' prices exposes not only main contractors to risk, but also their clients, who are left with worthless warranties when suppliers are forced into receivership.