Judge Finds Aluminum Purchaser Lawsuit Against LME, Goldman Sachs Meritless

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A federal judge has dismissed antitrust litigation accusing a variety of Wall Street banks and commodity merchants of conspiring to drive up aluminum prices by reducing supply.

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In decisions on Tuesday night and Wednesday, US District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan rejected claims brought by aluminum purchasers against several defendants including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Glencore Plc, and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd., which owns the London Metal Exchange.

Forrest said she will issue a decision later involving other defendants, including Detroit-based warehouse operator Metro International, which Goldman once owned.

The decisions are a setback for aluminum purchasers who raised price-fixing claims, in the highest-profile litigation affecting the base metals market in two decades.

These plaintiffs had accused Wall Street banks and commodity merchants of having colluded since May 2009 to hoard aluminum in warehouses. They said this led to higher storage costs, delays of up to 16 months to fill orders, and increases in prices of industrial products from soft drink cans to airplanes.

The cash price of primary Indian aluminum fell 1.1% on Tuesday, March 3 to INR 112.65 ($1.82) per kilogram, making it the day’s biggest mover. After a 0.2% increase, the 3-month price of aluminum finished the day on the LME at $1,811 per metric ton. On the LME, the primary aluminum cash price increased 0.1% to $1,797 per metric ton.

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Chinese aluminum prices closed flat for the day. The Chinese aluminum cash price saw little movement on Tuesday at CNY 12,860 ($2,049) per metric ton. The price of Chinese aluminum billet held steady at CNY 12,870 ($2,051) per metric ton. Chinese aluminum bar saw little change in its price on Tuesday at CNY 13,650 ($2,175) per metric ton. The price of Chinese aluminum scrap remained essentially flat at CNY 12,500 ($1,992) per metric ton.

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