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Russia Stocks Advance Most in a Month on Crude Oil, MRSK Rally

Russian equities gained the most in almost a month as crude oil, the country’s main export earner, traded near a one-week high, while OAO MRSK Holding rallied.

The Micex Index rose 1 percent to 1,386.25 by the 6:45 p.m. close in Moscow, the biggest gain since Oct. 17 after falling 0.6 percent earlier. Telecom and consumer stocks led the gains, adding at least 1.6 percent on average. MRSK Holding surged 3.3 percent after MSCI Inc. raised the weighting of the power utility in its Russia Index by four basis points. OAO Magnit, Russia’s biggest food retailer, jumped 2.5 percent.

Oil rose 0.6 percent to $86.83 in New York, trading near the highest level in more than a week after Israel attacked the Gaza Strip. Russia receives about 50 percent of its budget revenue from oil and natural gas sales. In China, the official Xinhua News Agency announced Xi Jinping had replaced Hu Jintao as head of the Chinese Communist Party. President Barack Obama invited Democratic and Republican leaders to the White House this week to begin talks on a plan to avert the fiscal cliff.

“We’re seeing conflicting parameters in the market,” Ovanes Oganisian, a strategist at Sberbank CIB, said by phone from Moscow. “The price of oil is rather high, which helps Russia, but the situation in the U.S. is a black box, Obama’s talks with the opposition is the main reason for investor concerns.”

The number of shares traded on the Micex was 12 percent below its 30-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

MSCI Rebalancing

MSCI lifted OAO Sberbank’s weighting 2.5 percentage points to 14.4 percent in the semi-annual rebalancing of its Russia Index, according to a report on its website. Sberbank rose 1.7 percent to 86.12 rubles, the most since Oct. 5.

The increase may trigger inflows of about $213 million in passive fund inflows, according to a VTB Capital note. MSCI made no additions or deletions from its Russia Index, it said. All changes will come into effect on Dec. 3, according to MSCI.

Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index rose 0.1 percent to 638.09. Most metals on the London Metals Exchange slumped, with nickel, zinc and steel retreating.

The Micex trades at 5.3 times estimated earnings after falling 1.1 percent this year. That compares with a multiple of 10 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which has added 6.3 percent.

VTB Stake

Russian equities have the lowest valuations based on estimated earnings among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.

VTB Group, Russia’s second-biggest bank, plans to raise as much as $3 billion selling new shares in the first half of 2013, Chairman Andrei Kostin said yesterday in an interview. The shares dropped as much as 1.1 percent before trading up 0.5 percent at 5.10 kopeks in Moscow.

The lender will probably choose advisers for the sale by the end of this year and will “definitely” include U.S. banks, Kostin said.

“The implication of a potentially larger size of the share offering is a clear negative sign, in our view, even though we believe the market was well aware of VTB’s capital concerns,” Alfa Bank analysts wrote in an e-mailed note today.

OAO MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile-phone operator, and investor TeliaSonera AB plan to sell a combined 15 percent stake in the company for $20 to $25 per global depositary receipt, Moscow-based MegaFon said today in a statement.

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