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Russia Stocks Rise for the Week as U.S. Economic Data Boosts Oil

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Russian stocks rose as the price of oil, the country’s main export earner, climbed on signs an improving U.S. economy will support fuel demand.

The 30-stock Micex advanced as much as 0.9 percent before closing little changed at 1,568.54 for a weekly increase of 2.8 percent. OAO Mechel, the country’s biggest coking coal producer, jumped 1.3 percent. OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, added as much as 1.3 percent. The dollar-denominated RTS Index rose 0.9 percent to 1,656.60 for a 3.3 percent climb in the week.

Oil, Russia’s main export revenue earner, increased as much as 1.2 percent to $103.57 a barrel in New York. Jobless claims in the U.S. dropped to the lowest level since 2008, beating estimates and sending stocks higher globally. European officials are considering cutting interest rates on emergency loans to Greece and using contributions from the European Central Bank to plug a new financing gap in a Greek bailout, people familiar with the talks said.

“Improving global sentiment, driven by expectations of a Greek accord and positive economic statistics from the U.S. --in particular unemployment figures -- helped send Russian stocks higher this week,” Alexander Zakharov, head of international equity sales at Finam Investment Co. in Moscow, said by e-mail. “Russian stocks are still relatively cheap, which is driving fund inflows.”

Russia country funds attracted $109 million in the week after $108 million of flows the week before, according to Troika Dialog, which cited EPFR Global data in an e-mailed note today.

The Micex is up 12 percent this year and trades at 6.1 times analysts’ earnings estimates for member companies. Brazil’s Bovespa index, which is valued at 10.6 times estimated earnings, has climbed 14 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Shanghai Composite Index trades at 9.7 times estimated earnings, and the BSE India Sensitive Index has a ratio of 16.2.

To contact the reporter on this story: Denis Maternovsky in Moscow at dmaternovsky@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Gavin Serkin at gserkin@bloomberg.net

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