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Aluminum spikes as White House plans fresh sanctions on Russia

21st February 2024

By: Bloomberg

  

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Aluminum surged on speculation that a fresh wave of US sanctions against Russia may target the metal, potentially disrupting supplies.

US President Joe Biden said the US plans to unveil a “major” sanctions package against Moscow on Friday, although he wasn’t specific about which industries would be affected. His comments stoked speculation that Russia’s huge metals industries could be in line for curbs as they have escaped broad US sanctions until now, although the United Kingdom has imposed restrictions.

Futures rose more than 2% in early trading on Wednesday, after a short-lived spike in the aftermath of Biden’s comments on Tuesday.

“Prices are rising on the Biden news as investors are assessing the potential measures and impact,” Li Jiahui, an analyst at Shanghai Metals Market, said by phone. “Investors are awaiting for the specific measures to land.”

Biden said the sanctions would be unveiled in response to the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the measures would target elements of the Russian “defense-industrial base” and other sources of revenue for the nation’s economy.

Aluminum rallied to a record above $4 000 a ton in the aftermath of Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 as large swathes of Russia’s economy, and many prominent officials, were subject to US-led curbs.

In December, the United Kingdom moved to block British individuals and entities from trading physical metals including aluminum, copper and nickel from Russia. At the time, the UK also hinted at the possibility of coordinated action with international partners. UK policy is important because of the significant role played by the London Metal Exchange in global metals markets.

Aluminum was up 2.5% to $2,247.50 a ton on the LME at 10:49 a.m. in Shanghai. Nickel rose 0.6%, and copper was up 0.4%

Edited by Bloomberg

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