Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Things are quiet - time to make a free phone call

Well away from the international steel picture and closer to home, demand for steel strip, continues to weaken. Few mills are working to capacity, and there is some evidence of “short time” working within the industry.

Whilst it is difficult to know what impact the “MG Rover effect” is having, there is clear evidence that demand is very weak. Even the most optimistic of steel producers have been forecasting a reduction of some 5% in sales, but I suspect that demand certainly through until the last quarter will be down some 15%.

With car sales down between 4% and 6% in Europe over 2004 and record oil prices, it is unlikely that the automotive industry (a major steel market) is going to offer any encouragement.

Completely changing the subject I saw that Skype™ is getting noticed by the mainstream media, even managing to be featured on the “Beeb” last week. VOIP (Voice over IP) or telephone calls over the internet can potentially offer considerable savings, particularly to businesses and individuals who make overseas calls on a regular basis. I have been using Skype in a limited way for a few months now, and it works just fine. Whilst internet calls may be some distance from being a major threat to the mainstream telephone companies now, I think they would unwise to discount them for the future.

Get over to Skype, and try out free phone calls now.

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