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OCC bars banks, thrifts from commercial metals trading

The OCC issued a final rule, effective April 1, 2017, barring national banks and federal savings associations from dealing or investing in industrial or commercial metals.

The final rule -- which replaces an earlier guidance that allowed national banks to trade copper -- covers metal (such as copper cathodes and aluminum T-bars), including alloy, in a physical form primarily suited to industrial or commercial uses.

The rule, however, does not change authorities held by national banks and FSAs for activities related to industrial or commercial metal that are distinct from dealing and investing -- such as the sale of industrial or commercial metal obtained from foreclosures in order to mitigate loan losses.

The OCC gives covered institutions with existing holdings of industrial and commercial metal acquired through dealing or investing activities five years to divest the metals.

The regulator put out the proposal on the ban in September, while the Federal Reserve also has a proposal on a stricter rule for physical commodities trading.