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Goldman offers to speed metal delivery

NEW YORK — Goldman Sachs has offered to speed delivery of aluminum stored in warehouses that it controls as federal authorities examine how delays at the facilities have driven up the price of the metal.

Under scrutiny for the long waits that have cost manufacturers — and ultimately consumers — many millions of dollars, Goldman said on Wednesday that its warehouse unit, Metro International Trade Services, would give customers who store aluminum at the warehouses immediate access to their metal.

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Through Metro International, Goldman stores vast amounts of aluminum in and around Detroit. An investigation by The New York Times found that Metro routinely shuffled tons of the metal from one warehouse to another, a tactic that profited Goldman but pushed up the US aluminum prices.

Goldman also said on it would suggest ways to improve the metal storage system, whose rules are dictated by the London Metal Exchange.

Regulators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are examining practices at warehouse operations controlled by financial firms and trading houses such as Glencore Xstrata, Noble Group, and Goldman. These operations store aluminum for companies like Coca-Cola and MillerCoors, as well as for speculators.

Congress has also taken an interest in the issue. Earlier this month, the Senate Banking Committee convened hearings on Wall Street’s push into the physical commodities markets and whether its involvement had raised prices.

Goldman said its offer to speed delivery of metal was open only to industrial customers of its Metro warehouses. If a customer wants immediate delivery of its metal, Goldman said, it would go into the open market and buy the amount requested, then swap it to the customer. Goldman said it would pay the difference between the market cost and the higher price that includes the storage premium. Goldman said none of its customers had taken up its offer yet.

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