Oof. The price of gas is going through the roof, and even milk is costing us a lot more than it used to. (My Lucky Charms breakfasts are not the bargains they used to be.) What's next? Well, how about steel?

At industryweek.com recently, I read that Dutch steelmaker ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT) expects to hike its prices for flat steel products next year, thanks to increases in the costs of raw materials (think iron ore) and energy. Prices have already been rising during this year. Hikes for 2008 are expected to be between 6% and 9%, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

This should be of interest to us, even if we're not investors in the steel industry -- because the price of steel is a factor in our financial lives. Rising prices will have a major effect on industries such as construction and machinery, and eventually on manufacturers such as automakers. Just what General Motors (NYSE:GM) and Ford (NYSE:F) need, right? Higher-priced cars. Making matters worse, steel inventories are low, which also puts upward pressure on prices.

Arcelor Mittal isn't alone. Nucor (NYSE:NUE) expects to raise its flat-rolled steel prices at least 5% shortly. Note, though, that all steel companies are not alike. A Gypsum Today article noted, "Some steelmakers are better insulated than others against higher raw-material prices. U.S. Steel (NYSE:X) has its own iron-ore and coke supplies for its U.S. steel plants."

If you're wondering what's driving these increases, many point fingers at China and other parts of Asia, where heavy construction and development are increasing the demand for steel. (You can get in on and profit from international growth by investing in some carefully selected foreign powerhouses.)

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.