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Russia Stocks Gain First Day in Three as U.S. Data Boost Magnit

Russia’s benchmark stock index rose for the first time in three days after better-than-expected U.S. data stoked appetite for riskier assets. OAO Magnit, the nation’s biggest food retailer, rallied to a record high.

The Micex Index traded up 0.2 percent at 1,498.97 by the close in Moscow. Of 50 stocks, 24 advanced and 26 decreased. The dollar-denominated RTS Index added 0.3 percent to 1,535.73. Consumer shares led gains, rising 1.6 percent on average. Magnit jumped 2.4 percent. OAO Raspadskaya, a coal producer, gained 3 percent, the most on the index.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly dropped last week to the lowest level in almost two months, adding to signs the labor market is strengthening. Oil in New York added 0.2 percent to $92.71 a barrel. Crude and natural gas account for about 50 percent of Russia’s budget revenue.

“The U.S. economy is doing better,” Victor Markov, an analyst at Kapital Asset Management LLC, said by phone from Moscow. “The situation in Europe is trying to stabilize. For Russia, the main factor is oil, which still remains pretty expensive. But as the importance of commodities for the Russian market decreases this year, consumer stocks, like Magnit, will benefit.”

European leaders start a two-day summit in Brussels today, with euro-area finance ministers meeting separately tomorrow to discuss a bailout for Cyprus. Europe is Russia’s largest trade partner.

X5 Jumps

The Russian Depositary Index gained 0.7 percent to 1,728.91, led by retailer X5 Retail Group NV, which surged 3.3 percent. The company will boost sales at least 11 percent this year, Chief Executive Officer Stephan DuCharme said yesterday on a conference call.

OAO Mostotrest, the bridge and road builder part-owned by President Vladimir Putin’s judo partner Arkady Rotenberg, slumped 4.1 percent, the biggest drop on the Micex Index.

OAO RusHydro fell 1.7 percent to 66.53 kopeks. The Russian renewable energy producer, which sank to a record low in London yesterday, will extend declines as a second year of sliding revenue dims dividend prospects, according to VTB Capital.

Russia’s biggest alternative energy producer, will post a 25 percent contraction in sales for 2012 when it reports earnings to international standards April 1, according to the mean of 15 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

OAO Novatek, Russia’s second-biggest natural-gas producer, surged 2.3 percent to 311.37 rubles. The Russian Subsoil Agency today declared Novatek the winner of an auction to develop the Arctic Vostochno-Tazovskoye, or East-Tazovskoye in English, oil and gas condensate field with a bid of 3.19 billion rubles ($103.5 million), according to a statement posted on the agency’s website.

MTS Rating

The number of shares traded on the Micex was 27 percent below its 30-day average and 10-day price swings on the Micex fell to 11.333, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

OAO Mobile TeleSystems, Russia’s biggest mobile phone company, added 0.5 percent to 282.14 rubles as JPMorgan Chase & Co. lifted the stock to neutral from underweight.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF, the largest dedicated Russian exchange-traded fund, declined 0.9 percent to $28.90. The RTS Volatility Index, which measures expected swings in the index futures, fell 6.5 percent to 18.98.

Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of raw materials increased 0.2 percent to 648.67. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the 14 most-traded Russian stocks in the U.S. added 0.2 percent today.

The Micex trades at about 5.5 times estimated earnings and has added 1.6 percent this year. That compares with a multiple of 11 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which dropped 0.8 percent over the same period.

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