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Micex Surges to Sixth Week of Gains as U.S. Data Boosts Appetite

Russian stocks surged to their sixth week of gains as the benchmark index rallied after better-than-expected U.S. data spurred bets Europe’s debt crisis won’t derail the global economy, lifting appetite for riskier assets.

The 30-stock Micex index added 1.5 percent to 1,564.82 by the close in Moscow, taking its weekly gain to 3.8 percent, the most since the period ending Dec. 4. Russia-focused equity mutual funds attracted $414 million in the week to Feb. 1, Troika Dialog said today, citing fund researcher EPFR Global.

Crude, Russia’s chief export, rose 0.9 percent to $97.23 in New York futures trading after the U.S. Labor Department said the unemployment rate dropped to the lowest level since February 2009 last month, a signal demand for the commodity may rise in the world’s largest economy. The Micex trades at 5.9 times analysts’ earnings estimates, making it the cheapest of the major emerging-market benchmark measures.

“Russia-dedicated funds showed their biggest inflows since April, which indicated risk-on again now that the U.S. is showing signs of recovery,” Marco Casas, vice-president of equity sales at Otkritie Capital in New York, said in e-mailed comments today.

OAO Polyus Gold, Russia’s biggest producer of the metal, surged 35 percent in Moscow as investors bet its London-listed parent company will make a buyout offer. OAO Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel climbed 5.4 percent to 14.93 rubles, the highest closing price since Dec. 5. The dollar-denominated RTS Index gained 1.4 percent to 1,625.60.

PMI Helps Stocks

“The valuations look cheap and we have been overweight in our exposure because of the cheapness,” Richard Lacaille, chief investment officer at State Street Global Advisors, which oversees $2.1 trillion, said in an interview at Troika Dialog’s annual investment conference in Moscow today.

The Micex is up 12 percent this year and climbed to the highest level in five months yesterday as manufacturing gauges in Europe, China and India rose in January. Urals, Russia’s main export blend, was little changed today at $112.32.

OAO Rosneft advanced 1.5 percent to 233.59 rubles after Russia’s biggest oil producer reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter income of $2.99 billion.

The Micex retreated 17 percent in 2011, compared with an 18 percent drop for Brazil’s Bovespa index, which is valued at 10.2 times estimated earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Shanghai Composite Index trades at 9.6 times estimated earnings and the BSE India Sensitive Index has a ratio of 15.6.

Fund Flows

Global emerging-market funds reported a sixth week of inflows as investor confidence in the global economy strengthened, Citigroup Inc. said. Funds investing in developing-nation stocks took in $2.6 billion in the week ended Feb. 1, Citigroup analysts led by Markus Rosgen, wrote in a report dated today, citing EPFR.

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