Aluminum price surges as White House plans fresh sanctions on Russia

US President Joe Biden. (Image by the US Secretary of Defense, Flickr.)

Aluminum and nickel surged on speculation that a fresh wave of US sanctions against Russia may target the metal and potentially disrupt 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. Traders have been on the lookout for new restrictions on Russian metals, which had escaped broad sanctions until the UK announced its own curbs in December.

The proposed curbs would be designed to “hold Russia responsible” for the death of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, White House spokesperson John Kirby said.

LME aluminum price

[Click here for interactive aluminum price chart]

Aluminum futures rose more than 2% in on Wednesday, after spiking in response to Biden’s comments on Tuesday. Nickel was up nearly 2%.

“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.”

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 2.6% to $2,251.50 a ton on the LME at 9:50 a.m. in London. Nickel rose 1.8%, and copper was up 0.4%.


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