US Extends Reprieve for Secondary Sanctions Against RUSAL

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"Rusal has felt the impact of USA sanctions because of its entanglement with Oleg Deripaska, but the United States government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on Rusal and its subsidiaries", said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Traders sold metals' futures with a vengeance after the USA softened its stance on sanctions against United Co.

The US statement also adds pressure on Deripaska as he tries to save the company without surrendering control. In that same action, OFAC designated EN+ Group for being owned or controlled by, directly or indirectly, Oleg Deripaska and other entities he owns or controls.

European leaders had been working to persuade Pres. Trump to ease sanctions on Russian Federation, and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the "impact on our partners and allies" factored into the US reprieve. Or so markets seem to believe: Shortly after Mnuchin's announcement Monday, global aluminum prices nose-dived. The most-actively traded palladium futures in NY dropped 5.4%.

Washington's clarification follows two weeks of chaos in global metal markets, during which manufacturers scrambled to secure supply. The Kremlin and Deripaska did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The US Treasury Secretary met with Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov during International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings in Washington last week.

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US officials will consider easing sanctions on Rusal, an aluminum producer controlled by a businessman with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Treasury Department announced Monday.

"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. "It shows that Rusal is trying get off the list". 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 United States aluminum downstream industry".

The administration's official position is that the sanctions will still go into effect eventually, if Oleg Deripaska does not divest and relinquish control of the firm.

Energy futures on the other hand fared much better, with front month Brent crude oil futures on the ICE tacking on 0.46% to see the day out from $74.40 a barrel.

The Western countries blame Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is backed by Iran and Russian Federation, for an attack that thrust Syria's seven-year-old conflict into the forefront of global concern.

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