Aluminium prices rebounded on Friday after the United States imposed sanctions on allies of President Vladimir Putin and their companies, including Rusal, one of the world’s biggest aluminium producers.
The US sanctions hit 24 Russians and a range of companies in one of Washington’s most aggressive moves to punish Moscow for what it called a range of ‘malign activity’.
‘Rusal is a significant producer and essentially what this risks doing is making that material very tough for consumers in the West to buy,’ said Oliver Nugent, commodities strategist at ING in Amsterdam.
‘There are so many legal questions: How does the brand get accepted by traders and can it get shipped to consumers? China, usually the guys who will take anything, don’t import aluminium.’
Benchmark aluminium on the London Metal Exchange closed up 1.6 per cent at $US2,042 a tonne, bouncing from negative territory after the sanctions were announced.
* US DOLLAR: Metals pared losses after the dollar reversed direction and went into the red as a report showed the US economy in March created the fewest jobs in six months and as investors worried about trade wars.
* TRADE: Weighing on metals was news that China warned it was fully prepared to respond with a ‘fierce counter strike’ of fresh measures if the United States follows through on President Donald Trump’s threat to slap tariffs on an additional $US100 billion in Chinese goods.
* NICKEL: Nickel fell partly on worries about a sluggish stainless steel market. It closed down 0.4 per cent at $US13,275, paring losses of more than three per cent during the session.
While nickel rallied over 30 per cent from December to mid-February, stainless steel prices hardly budged, showing weakness in that market, Nugent added.
”When higher prices can’t be passed to the end consumer, that’s concerning. Nickel is our preferred short at these levels and we’re forecasting it to fall below $US12,500 by the end of the year,’ he said.
* COPPER: LME three-month copper shed 0.7 per cent to end at $US6,769 a tonne, paring a 1.4 per cent advance from Thursday. ‘Copper appears particularly sensitive to the geopolitical headlines,’ Alastair Munro at broker Marex Spectron said in a note.
* SHFE: The Shanghai Futures Exchange was closed for a second day on Friday for the Tomb Sweeping Festival and will reopen on Monday.
* PRICES: Zinc dipped 0.2 per cent to close at $US3,232 a tonne, lead rose 0.5 per cent to $US2,393 and tin ended unchanged at $US21,050.