G7 foreign ministers to discuss Russian Federation, sanctions not on agenda

24 April, 2018, 05:14 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and European Commission Chief Jean Claude Juncker hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Brussels Belgium

ALUMINUM FOILED: The Treasury Department extended a deadline for USA companies to stop doing business with Rusal, and also said it could change its stance on sanctions against the company if billionaire businessman Oleg Deripaska gives up control.

Prices of aluminum sank after the US Treasury sent out a notice on Rusal.

The US statement also adds pressure on Deripaska as he tries to save the company without surrendering control. Rusal, the metals market was braced for more mayhem: many traders were betting the Russian aluminum giant was just days away from having to shut plants from Sweden to Jamaica.

Aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange tumbled more than 8 percent after the U.S. Treasury Department announcement, which gives Rusal longer to sell off large quantities of aluminum it had been stockpiling in the wake of sanctions.

That's important because the sanctions had all but frozen trade flows - most critically in the market for alumina, the raw material used to make finished aluminum.

Shares in Rusal, one of the world's largest aluminum companies, jumped almost 18 percent on the Moscow Exchange on the announcement.

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Palladium plunged by as much as 5.4% and nickel as much 6.7%.

At Russia's request, Mnuchin met with Russian Finance Minister Siluanov during International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington last week. A German industry lobbying group has warned, for example, that aluminum smelters may be forced to close, which would threaten automakers, aerospace and other industries as well as affecting non-Rusal aluminum producers.

This possibility, according to RBC, is indicated in the explanatory note of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), posted on the website of the US Treasury. The Russians were seeking "clarification" on Rusal and Oleg Deripaska, Mnuchin told reporters on Saturday. Deripaska's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available.

"Things have ground to a halt in terms of Rusal's dealings with major western companies", said Maximilian Hess, a senior political risk analyst at AKE International. The company owns mines, refineries and smelters not only in Russian Federation, but also all over the world, for example in Ireland and Jamaica. "It looks as if there was a lot of pressure from the USA aluminum downstream industry", he told the news agency Bloomberg.

Rusal declined to comment on the Treasury Department announcement.

Aluminum rallied to its highest since mid-2011 last week on fears that the global market could face shortages as a result of the US sanctions.

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