Russian stocks, ruble dive again

Russian stock indices sank in early trade on Friday with some shares hitting a one-year low and the ruble extended losses over global economic uncertainties, analysts said.

The index of ruble-denominated MICEX exchange dropped to 1,350, its lowest since last August at opening of trade, but rebounded slightly to 1,361 by 12:00 Moscow time.

The dollar-denominated RTS stock exchange dropped 2.18 percent to 1,357.

The losses added to Thursday’s falls, when the RTS index plummeted 8.61 percent to 1,388 and the MICEX index dropped 7.82 percent to 1,389.

“The G20 meeting is continuing and more concrete measures to overcome the crisis (for instance, widening the IMF and the European Financial Stability Fund’s authority and funding) may be announced at its end,” Bank of Moscow analyst Yury Volos said. “Otherwise, … the markets fall may continue at a higher speed.”

The official exchange rate of Russian ruble for tomorrow settlement fell 20 kopecks to 32.10 to the dollar. Against the euro, the ruble lost 20 kopecks to 43.36 by 11.52 Moscow time.

The bi-currency basket against which the ruble is valued, comprising $0.55 and 0.45 euros, hit the upper limit of the floating currency corridor of 37.20 rubles at Friday’s open.

VTB Capital analysts said in a research note they thought the central bank had sold more than its usual 400 million rubles on Thursday to calm the markets.

“We expect the central bank will have to shift the band up several times within the next few weeks, in line with its existing intervention mechanism of spending more reserves to support the ruble. However, we do not exclude the central bank’s finding an appropriate moment to widen the band by the end of the year,” VTB Capital said.

It also said not only external, but also internal factors were pushing the ruble down.

“It is mainly external factors which have triggered the recent sharp ruble depreciation on the back of non-residents’ massive liquidations in the domestic equity and bond markets. However, there are internal factors (seasonally weaker current account balance, political uncertainty ahead of elections) which could keep the ruble from making a material recovery until the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, even if the global markets stabilize,” VTB said, referring to parliamentary elections in December and presidential polls in March.

“Hence, in the near term (the next two-three months), we see the risks for the ruble being more to the downside than the upside.”

Promsvyazbank analysts said the ruble would be supported at 31.85 per dollar level.

Leave a comment