Norsk Hydro CEO says securing alumina to replace Alunorte output is priority

Date Mar 16 2018 14:56:30 Source:SHMET

OSLO/LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Norsk Hydro Asa  NHY.OL  sees securing alternative sources of alumina to replace reduced supplies at its Brazilian plant as a priority, Chief Executive

Svein Richard Brandtzaeg told Reuters.

    Brazilian authorities ordered Norsk Hydro's Alunorte plant, the world's largest alumina plant, to cut output by half in late February until it addressed pollution concerns, leading the Norwegian company to declare force majeure with no time set to restart production.

    Alunorte refines bauxite to alumina, which is turned into aluminium at huge smelters. It produces 5.8 million metric tonnes of alumina per year, according to Norsk Hydro's website.

    In a telephone interview, Brandtzaeg said he could not yet say when full production would resume but dialogue with the Brazilian authorities was "very constructive".

    He said Alunorte had supplies to last into April but sourcing extra volumes was a priority.

    "We are looking at alternative sourcing on the international market," he said. "Sourcing extra volumes is a key priority."

    The company said in a statement on Thursday it had put 400 employees that work in its facilities in the northern state of ParĂ¡ on a compulsory 15-day leave beginning on April 2.

    Hydro's shares closed down 1.6 percent on Thursday.

Edited by SHMET

Russian billionaire Potanin buys 2 pct of Nornickel from Abramovich

Date Mar 16 2018 14:55:43 Source:SHMET

MOSCOW, March 15 (Reuters) - Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin's Interros Holding said it had completed the purchase from businessman Roman Abramovich of a 2 percent stake in Norilsk Nickel  GMKN.MM , which has been the subject of a legal battle.

    Abramovich struck a provisional deal last week that allowed him to sell a 4 percent stake in Norilsk to fellow shareholders Potanin and aluminium producer Rusal  0486.HK , pending the outcome of a London court case. 

    Rusal is trying to stop Abramovich from selling Nornickel shares, arguing that would violate a 2012 shareholder agreement. The share purchase by Interros could yet be revoked if the court, which is expected to make a decision in May, rules in favour of Rusal.

    The dispute is part of a long-running battle for control of Nornickel, a $30 billion company that competes with Brazil's Vale for the rank of the world's top nickel producer. It is also the world's largest palladium producer.

    Interros said in statement that it had bought a 2.1 percent stake from Abramovich, increasing its holding in the miner to 32.9 percent.

    The purchase was made at a price of $234 per share, as set out in Potanin's initial offer to buy a stake from Abramovich in early February. 

    Nornickel's Moscow-listed shares were down 1 percent at 10,775 roubles ($189) per share on Thursday, underperforming a broader MICEX index which was stable.

    It was unclear whether Rusal planned to buy the remaining 2 percent stake on offer from Abramovich.

    Asked about its intentions on Thursday, Rusal told Reuters that it "is considering its options in light of ongoing litigation". Controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, Rusal holds 27.8 percent in Nornickel.

    According to the arrangement between the three parties reached in the London court last week, any transfer of this 4 percent stake by Abramovich would be reversed if the court rules in favour of Rusal in the dispute.  ($1 = 57.0670 roubles)


Edited by SHMET

Top U.S., EU officials fix meeting next week on tariffs - EU source

Date Mar 16 2018 14:55:04 Source:SHMET

 BRUSSELS, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom have agreed to meet next week in an attempt to resolve a deepening dispute over trade tariffs, a European Commission source said on Thursday.

    Ross and Malmstrom spoke on the telephone on Thursday and discussed U.S. plans to impose import duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium, the source said.

    Malmstrom repeated the European Union's hope that it would be exempted, given that the bloc is a close security ally of the United States, and said the two should work together on the issue of global overcapacity, which was harming both economies.

    President Donald Trump, who has cited national security for imposing the tariffs, has already offered exemptions to Canada and Mexico.    

    Ross and Malmstrom agreed to meet next week although details of the talks remain to be set, the Commission source said.

    Malmstrom met U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels on Saturday, but emerged from that meeting saying it was not clear how the EU could seek exemptions.

    Trump tweeted on Monday that Ross would lead Washington's efforts to persuade the EU to remove tariffs and barriers that he has described as "horrific" and unfair to U.S. farmers and manufacturers. 

    He has also threatened to set import levies on EU cars.

    The EU disputes Trump's line on tariffs and his emphasis on cars, for which the U.S. tariff, at 2.5 percent, is lower than the EU's 10 percent. For other products, U.S. tariffs are higher, such as trucks at 25 percent compared with an EU rate that can be as low as 10.

    The Commission has said that, if the United States applied tariffs to EU steel and aluminium, then it would launch a legal challenge at the World Trade Organization and consider its own tariffs or quotas to prevent those metals flooding into Europe.

    It has also drawn up a list of U.S. products worth 2.8 billion euros ($3.45 billion) on which it could impose 25 percent import duties.   

($1 = 0.8112 euros)



Edited by SHMET

Gold steady as political concerns offset rate hike fears

Date Mar 16 2018 14:54:25 Source:SHMET
  March 16 (Reuters) - Gold prices held firm on Friday as tensions between the United Kingdom and Russia and renewed U.S. political concerns offset worries about a possible U.S. rate hike next week.
    Spot gold  XAU=  was unchanged at $1,315.50 per ounce at 0200 GMT. Spot gold has fallen 0.6 percent so far this week. 
    U.S. gold futures  GCcv1  for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1,315.20 per ounce.
    Gold prices fell 0.7 percent in the previous session, under pressure from a stronger U.S. dollar.
    The dollar rose versus a currency basket  .DXY  as traders, awaiting next week's Federal Reserve meeting, eyed data that showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell last week. 
    The U.S. Federal Reserve will begin its two-day rate setting meeting on March 20, at which the U.S. central bank is expected to raise interest rates for the first time this year.
    "Investors are starting to focus on next week's Fed meeting, which should be constructive for the dollar and bearish for gold," said INTL FCStone.
    Gold is highly sensitive to rising U.S. interest rates, because it becomes less attractive to investors since it does not bear interest. 
    Meanwhile, Moscow said it would retaliate against London's move to expel 23 Russian diplomats over a nerve toxin attack on a Russian former double agent in Britain.  
    Growing U.S. political uncertainties following the recent departure of two key officials, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top economic advisor Gary Cohn, from the Trump administration have also left investors worried.
    Worries over the U.S. investigation into the Trump Organization also tested investor nerves, already frayed by fears U.S. tariffs could hurt the global economy and trigger a trade war.  
    U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has subpoenaed the Trump Organization for documents, including some related to Russia, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing two people briefed on the matter. 
    The rise of geopolitical tensions between the UK and Russia likely tempered any selloff in gold despite a firmer dollar, Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA said.
    "Traders remain incredibly indecisive about the course of Fed policy, and all asset markets are enduring position adjustments where the lack of investor participation could exaggerate price action."
    Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust  GLD , the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, rose 0.53 percent to 838.15 tonnes on Thursday from Wednesday. 
    Holdings saw their highest inflows since January on Thursday.  
    Among other precious metals, silver  XAG=  was flat at $16.37.
    Platinum  XPT=  was steady at $953.90, while palladium XPD=  fell 0.1 percent to $985.50.

Edited by SHMET

U.S. trade panel says imports of aluminum foil from China harm U.S. producers

Date Mar 16 2018 14:53:46 Source:SHMET

WASHINGTON, March 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. International Trade Commission said on Thursday it had made a final finding that imports of aluminum foil from China hurt U.S. producers, a move that locks in place hefty duties of up to 188 percent on Chinese exporters.

    The "final phase" finding came in an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy case brought by the Aluminum Association Trade Enforcement Working Group.

    The final finding means the U.S. Commerce Department can put in place for five years antidumping and countervailing duties it announced on Feb. 27 on a number of Chinese firms. 

    The department announced that dumping margins would range from 48.64 percent to 106.9 percent and anti-subsidy rates from 17.14 percent to 80.97 percent.

    The action is separate from U.S. President Donald Trump's imposition of a global aluminum tariff of 10 percent and a global steel tariff of 25 percent.

    China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" after the U.S. Commerce Department announced its findings in February, and the country's Ministry of Commerce said it would take steps to protect its legal rights and interests in the matter.

    Wang Hejun, the head of the ministry's Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau, said in the statement the U.S. finding "disregarded WTO rules" and would seriously damage China's aluminum foil exporters.

Edited by SHMET