ASIAN MORNING BRIEF 18/04: LME aluminium closes above $2,400/t; US sanctions vs Russia could have far-reaching repercussions, Lord Copper says; Largo eyes 25% increase in vanadium output at Brazil mine

The latest news and price moves to start the Asian day on Wednesday April 18.

Aluminium prices on the London Metal Exchange closed above $2,400 per tonne on Tuesday April 17 for the first time since September 2011, continuing the strong momentum triggered by the United States’ imposition of sanctions against Russian aluminium producer Rusal. Read more in our live futures report.

Here are how prices looked at Tuesday’s close:

President Donald Trump’s import tariffs might have been welcomed by US manufacturing sectors for being supportive of domestic production but the sanctions against Russia and Rusal-made aluminium could have far greater repercussions, Lord Copper muses.

Canada’s Largo Resources Ltd plans to expand production capacity at the Maracás Menchen mine in Brazil’s Bahia State, targeting an increase of at least 25% from current levels by June 2019, the company said.

The European and US vanadium markets retreated last week, with traders continuing to sell off inventories to protect against weakening prices in the Chinese market as well as slowing spot market demand.

Comex copper prices failed to maintain enough momentum to open higher in Tuesday morning trading in the US, with geopolitical tensions outweighing a solid fundamental outlook.

In the steel market, Brazilian flat steel producer Usiminas resumed operations at the No. 1 blast furnace at its Ipatinga Works, in the country’s southeastern Minas Gerais state.

Fears that a global trade war would swiftly follow the imposition of the US’ Section 232 tariffs have been overplayed, World Steel Association director general Edwin Basson said in the group’s latest short-range forecast.

The European Union’s safeguard case into a number of imported steel products will injure the European steel distribution chain and will result in the market being dominated by a small group of suppliers, Italian steel distributors’ association Assofermet said.

Khouzestan Steel, Iran’s largest exporter of semifinished steel products, intends to integrate its production and is negotiating to buy local plate producer Oxin Steel, a company source told Metal Bulletin.

In raw materials, the stoppage of Anglo American’s Minas-Rio iron ore operation in Brazil will have an effect, albeit a small one, on worldwide supplies and prices of high-grade material.

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