LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) – The London Metal Exchange (LME) will launch seven new cash-settled futures contracts on March 11, including hot-rolled coil (HRC) steel and alumina, it said on Thursday. The exchange, the world’s oldest and largest market for industrial metals, also said in a statement that it expected to launch a lithium contract in the fourth quarter. “We believe that these new cash-settled contracts… will help lower barriers to market entry,” said Robin Martin, head of market development for the LME. “This will attract new players to the market who can benefit from using LME hedging to better manage their price risk in the physical metals market.” The LME, owned by Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd , also announced the index providers that will provide pricing for the contracts, which are listed below:

* HRC Steel North America – Platts

* HRC Steel FOB China – Argus

* Alumina – (Basket of CRU/Fastmarkets MB)

* Aluminium Premium Duty Paid U.S. Midwest – Platts

* Aluminium Premium Duty Paid Europe – Fastmarkets MB

* Cobalt – Fastmarkets MB

* Molybdenum – Platts For the lithium contract, the LME said it had short-listed three index providers for pricing: Argus, Benchmark Minerals and Fastmarkets.

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