Russian equities rose for the first day in three as utilities shares advanced.
The 50-stock Micex Index gained 0.1 percent to 1,473.53 by the close in Moscow, with 26 stocks climbing, two little changed and 22 dropping. The gauge has added 5.1 percent this year. OAO Alrosa, Russia’s diamond mining monopoly, surged 6.6 percent, the most since Feb. 2. OAO Inter RAO UES jumped as much as 2.8 percent in Moscow and was up 1.8 percent at 2.52 kopeks after Vedomosti reported President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to speed up Rosneftegaz’s acquisition of 40 percent of OAO Irkutskenergo, which belongs to Russia’s third-largest power producer.
Power stocks climbed 0.6 percent on average, the most of industry groups. Democrats and Republicans discussed how to avoid more than $600 billion in tax gains and spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, which are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
“We’re seeing very low trading activity today,” Alexander Ivanischev, head of research at Infina Investment Co., said by phone from Moscow. “Investors have a sense that U.S. lawmakers will finally come to a consensus soon, boosting appetite for riskier assets.”
The amount of shares traded on the gauge was 47 percent below the 10-day average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Failure to reach agreement would push the U.S. into recession for the first half of 2013, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.
Vedomosti cited unidentified people close to the Rosneftegaz-Irkutskenergo deal, while in a report today VTB Capital analysts led by Mikhail Rasstrigin said Inter RAO’s sale of its Irkutskenergo stake is a “long-awaited step forward” for the utility. Federal Grid Co. added 1.3 percent 20.44 kopeks.
“Investors are more likely to adopt the prudent strategy of fence-sitting for a couple of days during this holiday period,” Chris Weafer, Sberbank CIB’s chief strategist, said in an e-mailed report.
OAO Pharmstandard, a drugmaker, lost 2.1 percent to 1,567 rubles. Consumer stocks dropped 1 percent on average. OAO Magnit, Russia’s largest food retailer by market value, declined 1.1 percent to 4,781.10 rubles.
Russia receives about half of its budget revenue from the oil and gas industry. The country’s markets are closed for New Year and Christmas holidays in the first week of 2013 until Jan. 8. The last day of trading this year is Dec. 28.
The RTS Index, Russia’s dollar-denominated equity gauge, dropped 0.1 percent to 1,513.74. The Bloomberg Russia-US stocks measure dropped 0.5 percent to 97.02 yesterday. The Market Vectors Russia ETF, the biggest U.S. exchange-traded fund that holds Russian shares, decreased 0.3 percent to $28.74 yesterday. U.S. markets are closed today because of the Christmas holiday.
The Micex trades at about 5.4 times estimated earnings. That compares with a multiple of 10.6 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which has gained 14 percent.
Russian equities have the lowest valuations based on estimated earnings among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.