Metals Tied to Russia Slide on Softer Sanctions Position

The U.S. Treasury building Washington D.C

Aluminum prices dove off multi-year highs Monday morning as the United States softened its stance on Russian sanctions that had been threatening supply of the metal. 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.

It also extended the window for companies to wind-down their commitments with Rusal by almost five months.

The US statement also adds pressure on Deripaska as he tries to save the company without surrendering control.

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.

"They are I think interested in a unified approach on how we express our profound concern and our disagreement and how we will work together to address them", said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Given the impact on our partners and allies, we are issuing a general license extending the maintenance and wind-down period while we consider RUSAL's petition", Mnuchin said.

The reaction in the ruble has been minimal.

To recap, on April 6, the US Treasury imposed fresh sanctions on 26 Russian tycoons and officials, including Oleg Deripaska, Igor Rotenberg, Kirill Shamalov, Viktor Vekselberg, Suleyman Kerimov, Vladimir Bogdanov and Andrey Skoch.

Rusal produces about 6 percent of the world's aluminum and operates mines, smelters, and refineries across the world from Guinea to Ireland, Russia to Jamaica. Deripaska's spokeswoman wasn't immediately available.

At Russia's request, Mnuchin met with Russian Finance Minister Siluanov during International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington last week.

Rusal produces about 6 percent of the world's aluminum and operates mines, smelters and refineries across the world from Guinea to Ireland and Russian Federation to Jamaica.

"It should calm things down", said Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank. The Treasury Department said the United States could provide sanctions relief if Deripaska ceded control of the company.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dropped $1.03, or 1.5 percent, to $67.37 per barrel in NY while Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, lost 56 cents to $73.50 per barrel in London. "It looks as if there was a lot of pressure from the USA aluminum downstream industry". The price of the metal had soared 31 percent to multi-year highs after Washington brought havoc to the market two weeks ago by cutting RUSAL from its markets.

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