Rusal shares soar, aluminum falls as U.S. lifts sanctions – by Patricia Zengerle and Polina Ivanova (Reuters U.S. – January 27, 2019)

WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration on Sunday lifted sanctions on the core empire of Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska, including aluminum giant Rusal and its parent En+, despite a Democrat-led push to maintain them.

The move, which sent the Russian stock index to an all-time high, has watered down the toughest penalties imposed since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, following a lobbying campaign in the United States that lasted almost 10 months.

Hong-Kong listed shares in Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer outside China, hit their highest since April on Monday, rising 9 percent. Aluminum prices on the London Metal Exchange (LME) dropped as much as 1.4 percent after the open. The sanctions had sent London aluminum to a seven-year high when they were announced in April last year amid fears of a supply squeeze.

On Monday, the LME said it had lifted its suspension on storing Rusal-produced metal in LME-approved warehouses with immediate effect.

“Members may freely enter into contracts with Rusal and its affiliates,” the LME said in a statement. The decision to lift the sanctions, imposed by the U.S. Treasury in response to what it called Russia’s “malign activities”, defied a Democratic-led push in the U.S. Congress to maintain the restrictions.

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