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Russian Stocks Advance to Highest in 3 Weeks on U.S. Payrolls

Russian stocks rose to the highest level in three weeks as employment in the U.S. picked up more than forecast in April, boosting global stocks and oil.

The Micex Index rose 2.3 percent to 1,408.03 by 6:45 p.m. in Moscow, the highest close since April 10. OAO Gazprom, Russia’s largest company, climbed the most since October 2011. The dollar-denominated RTS index advanced 3.1 percent.

Non-farm payrolls in the U.S. expanded by 165,000 workers last month following a revised 138,000 increase in March that was larger than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed in Washington today. The median forecast of 90 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 140,000 gain. Oil in London gained 1.7 percent, extending yesterday’s 2.9 percent advance, to $104.70 a barrel.

“U.S. payrolls have arguably been the single most important indicator of the direction of investor comfort with the global growth backdrop since the crisis began,” Michael Harris, a strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch EMEA, said in a report raising Russian stocks to overweight. “We suspect the near term risk reward for Brent and hence the Russian equity trade has improved today.”

State-run Gazprom, Russia’s natural gas exporter, increased 4.4 percent to 128.68 rubles. Smaller competitor OAO Novatek added 3.9 percent. Aluminum producer United Co. Rusal advanced 3.4 percent to 156.26 rubles, while billionaire Alexey Mordashov’s OAO Severstal added 3.3 percent to 277.50 rubles.

The ruble gained 0.3 percent against Bank Rossii’s target basket of dollars and euros to 35.4027 by 6 p.m. It added 0.4 percent against the dollar to 31.0410, appreciating for the first time in three days.

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