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Aluminum slid and nickel pared earlier gains after a package of US sanctions omitted any major curbs on Russian industrial metals

The action announced on Friday included measures against more than 500 people and entities linked to Russia’s war machine, but left the country’s base metals industries unscathed. The two metals had been buoyed this week by expectations that the package might put pressure on supplies.

Nickel, which had steadily gained this week in anticipation of the sanctions news, pared an earlier advance of as much as 1.2% to trade just 0.3% higher. Aluminum retreated as much as 1.1% on Friday.

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In the aluminum market, prices had touched the highest since early February on Wednesday, following US President Joe Biden’s earlier announcement that new sanctions would be imposed in response to the death of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. The latest wave of US measures also comes on the eve of the second anniversary of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The absence of new measures turned the focus back to market fundamentals.

“Aluminium has erased all the gains this afternoon after being buoyed this week by speculation of sanctions,” ING Groep NV commodities strategist Ewa Manthey said.

“Now the focus moves back to demand side woes including the challenging macro backdrop in China and higher borrowing costs and the uncertain path of US Fed’s easing cycle. We believe global economic uncertainty will continue to weigh on the outlook for aluminium.”

Nickel was still set for a gain of more than 6% this week, the biggest weekly advance since July. The bounce in nickel may have been fueled by earlier short covering from wrong-footed hedge funds, according to Saxo Bank A/S commodity strategist Ole Hansen.

Still, that market remains oversupplied, Manthey said earlier.

Russia’s metals and mining industry escaped blanket restrictions until last December, when the UK — home of the London Metal Exchange — announced its own curbs. But some consumers and traders have balked at buying Russian metal for some time, and the UK’s steps just added to the growing complexity of handling material from the country.

Nickel traded at $17,450 a ton on the LME at 4:09 p.m. London time. Aluminum slid 0.9% to $2,178.50 a ton, while copper fell 0.4%.

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