London aluminium prices were poised on Friday for their biggest weekly gain as fears of supply disruption deepened amid further sanctions on Russia, which ramped up its attack on Ukraine.
Russia produces about 6% of the world’s aluminium. It is also a major producer of natural gas used to generate electricity that powers production of aluminium.
Three-month aluminium on the London Metal Exchange touched a record high of $3,850 a tonne and was up 3.3% at $3,840 by 0240 GMT. The metal is also headed for its best weekly performance, rising 14% so far.
Benchmark nickel on the LME gained 2.7% to $27,615 a tonne, hovering close to a seven-year high of $27,976 touched on Thursday. Prices are up about 13.3% for the week, biggest since August 2019.
Shares in Russian aluminium giant Rusal plunged this week after the world’s largest commodity trader said it would review its business ties in Russia while condemning the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Rusal’s Hong Kong-listed shares were down as much as 29% on Wednesday. They slipped another 2% on Friday.
Aluminium is trading near an all-time high as Russia’s attack on its European neighbour has threatened to disrupt commodity supply.
Commodities trader Glencore said it would review its stake in Rusal’s controlling shareholder, En+ Group International, citing the conflict’s “devastating” human impact.
The Aluminum Association, the North American lobby group, said the US and Canadian domestic markets had strengthened, as exports, excluding scrap, to foreign countries declined 20.4% in 2021. Scrap exports increased 16% over the 2020 level.
While imported aluminium and related products into the US and Canada grew 21.3% year-over-year in 2021 amid higher demand, they are still nearly 25% below 2017 volumes.
“Taken together, this latest data shows an industry in strong recovery mode,” said Charles Johnson, president and CEO of the Aluminum Association.
“Despite the lingering challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitical issues and supply chain challenges, the US aluminium industry shows signs of robust growth in a number of markets.”
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell