Russian stocks tumble as United States imposes sanctions

Russian aluminum giant Rusal saw its share price almost halved on the Hong Kong stock exchange Monday after Washington placed it under sanctions, putting the metals major at risk of defaulting on part of its debt.

Last week, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, saying they were profiting from a Russian state engaged in "malign activities" around the world.

Rusal's shares dropped 16 per cent on the Moscow Exchange on Friday.

Russian tycoon and former president of Rusal Oleg Deripaska listens during the "Regions in Transformation: Eurasia" event in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2015. "The situation is pretty egregious from the point of view of legality, it tramples on all kinds of norms, and so a thorough analysis is necessary", he said.

Rusal, a Russian-based aluminum maker, has been included in a list of companies sanctioned by the US.

The London Metal Exchange aluminium spot price went from $1,967 per tonne on Friday morning to close at $2,155/t yesterday.

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At around 0710 GMT, the company's stocks had tumbled 49 percent to HK$2.38 ($0.30, 0.25 euros).

"This does warrant a little bit of panic buying by traders - the risk is large enough and real enough to buy on the back of insecurity of supply", said Mr Daniel Hynes, a senior commodities strategist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

New US sanctions have already proved very costly for one Russian oligarch.

Russia's broader market also sank, with the main blue-chip index trading 9.6 per cent lower, as major companies such as Sberbank and Norilsk Nickel fell sharply despite not being affected by the sanctions, which also hit six other oligarchs and 17 government officials.

The sanctions follow weeks of tit-for-tat diplomatic measures between Russian Federation and Western states following the poisoning of a Russian Federation former double agent in Britain last month. It is up around 7 percent since the sanctions were announced on Friday.

  • Darren Santiago