As Rusal Sanctions Ease, Traders Eye Other Metal Shock Threats – by Susanne Barton (Bloomberg News – April 23, 2018)

The turmoil in the metals market that sent aluminum to its worst slump in almost eight years isn’t over. Buckle up for a longer bumpy ride ahead.

Aluminum led losses among metals Monday after the U.S. Treasury Department opened the door to relief from sanctions to United Co. Rusal, the largest aluminum producer outside of China. That triggered a selloff in the lightweight metal less than a week after the Rusal curbs sent prices soaring to an almost seven-year high.

While the Treasury Department’s statement signal the refined metal produced by Rusal could soon be back in the market, other uncertainties persist. Among those is the question of the flow of alumina, the main raw material used to make the refined metal.

Alumina surged last week to a record $800 per ton, helping drive aluminum prices to the highest since 2011 and pushing the volatility in the metal to the highest since 2010.

Norsk Hydro ASA’s giant Alunorte alumina refinery in Brazil has been running at just 50 percent since a late-February court order amid accusations that a rainstorm led to contamination of an Amazonian river.

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