Japanese companies ask Rusal to stop shipping aluminum after United States sanctions

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Russian aluminum giant Rusal has stopped placing orders with two logistics firms that ship its exports, executives with the firms said on Tuesday, in a sign of deepening problems for the company after it was hit by USA sanctions. This included Oleg Deripaska, his Hong Kong-listed company Rusal and his new holding company En+ Group.

Nickel soared to a three year peak on Wednesday as what analysts said were misplaced concerns that the metal would become ensnared in USA sanctions on Russian companies caused it to break through key technical levels.

"They (Rusal) do not know what to do yet, what is going on with them; that is why all transportation operations are suspended", TransContainer's Chief Executive Petr Baskakov told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday.

TransContainer's Baskakov said Rusal is considering redirecting its exports to other markets that are less sensitive to the sanctions risk, and while it works through that process had suspended pending shipments.

London aluminium futures, which have topped $2,400 a tonne, have surged 19 percent this month.

The aluminum is one of the most traded metals and is a basic material for the transport and construction industry.

Chinese industrial output expanded 6.0 percent in March year-on-year, the slowest pace in seven months, while fixed asset investment for January-March also came in below expectations.

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The global aluminium market could face supply shortages because of USA sanctions on Russian Federation and Norsk Hydro's production cuts in Brazil, Hydro's chief executive told Reuters on Monday.

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"Everyone has been on a search for substitutes and that pushed local spot premiums to around $200-$250 per ton by last Friday", he said.

The figure is significantly higher than the Japanese term premiums for the April-June quarter shipments at $129 per ton.

"The sanction came as a total surprise and we are in an nearly panic situation", a source at a second trading company said.

Australia, the Middle East, Malaysia and India are all viable alternative sources for metal.

Aluminium prices rallied to their highest since 2011 on Monday as the dollar fell and Rio Tinto declared force majeure on some customer contracts after the United States imposed sanctions on its Russian partner Rusal.