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Sberbank Tumbles Most in Year as China Triggers Flight From Risk

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, sank the most in a year as an unexpected manufacturing contraction in China and speculation the U.S. Federal Reserve will scale back stimulus curbed demand for riskier assets.

The stock closed down 4.7 percent at 105.62 rubles in Moscow, the steepest drop since May 23. Its depositary receipts fell 5.5 percent to $13.48 in London, snapping a four-day rally.

China’s manufacturing shrank for the first time in seven months, according to a report by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics. The Fed could “step down” the pace of asset purchases if the U.S. labor market continues to improve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said yesterday. Russia’s Micex Index lost 3.6 percent today, leading the retreat among emerging markets. Sberbank gained 8.2 percent since May 16 before today’s slump, compared with the Micex Index’s 5.4 percent advance.

“Sberbank is vulnerable because it’s been such a notable outperformer of late and it’s a high beta play to boot,” Julian Rimmer, an equities trader at CF Global Trading UK Ltd. in London, said by e-mail today. “Russia is perceived as a derivative of Chinese growth, hence the exaggerated reaction to data which on the face of it was relatively innocuous.”

The number of Sberbank shares traded in Moscow was 94 million, equivalent to about 1.3 times the three-month daily average. In London, 21 million depositary receipts or about 1.2 times the three-month average changed hands.

“Sberbank is one of the most liquid papers on the Russian market,” Andrey Klapko, an analyst at OAO Gazprombank in Moscow, said by phone. “It can’t ignore market trends.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Levitov in London at mlevitov@bloomberg.net

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

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