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Russia’s Micex Trims 2013 Gains as Gazprom Drops on Dividends

Russian shares declined, curbing this year’s advance, as OAO Gazprom, the nation’s biggest company and natural gas producer, fell after a document showed it expects its dividend to miss analyst estimates.

The Micex Index fell 0.4 percent to 1,494.83 by the close of trading in Moscow, trimming its increase this year to 1.4 percent, following a gain of 5.2 percent in 2012 and a loss of 17 percent in 2011. Gazprom, which has the biggest weighting on the index, slumped 1 percent to 139 rubles. The payout on 2013 profit will probably drop by 2.6 billion rubles ($79.8 million) from the previous year, Gazprom said in the document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Russian stocks are little changed this year as the price of raw materials, from which Russia earns about half its budget revenue, head for their first annual decline since 2008. The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of commodities is 0.7 percent lower in 2013. Redemptions from Russia-dedicated equity funds reached $3.59 billion in 2013 through Dec. 18, the most since EPFR Global started tracking flows in 1996, the Boston-based research firm said by e-mail on Dec. 20.

“In the short-term, Gazprom’s lower dividend prospects are negative for the sentiment,” Stanislav Kopylov, who helps manage about $3 billion at UralSib Asset Management in Moscow, said by phone. “I’m expecting the market to fall next below this year’s levels amid the economic stagnation.”

Russian equity funds posted $178 million in outflows in the week ended Dec. 25, Sberbank CIB said in an e-mailed note today, citing EPFR data.

Gazprom Accounting

OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender, retreated 1.2 percent to 100.65 rubles, while slumping 1.5 percent to $12.39 by 3:44 p.m. in London. Gazprom’s global depositary receipts fell 1.7 percent to $8.50.

Gazprom told investors in February that dividends would almost double in 2014 under a plan to make payments on profit calculated under international financial reporting standards. The Russian government has since allowed the state-controlled company to delay the move by at least two years.

Gazprom, based in Moscow, declined to comment on the numbers when called by Bloomberg.

The Micex is up 1.1 percent since the Federal Reserve announced plans on Dec. 18 to cut its monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion, citing an improved outlook for the U.S. employment market. Stocks were also supported by President Vladimir Putin’s decision to pardon imprisoned former Yukos Oil Co. owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky last week and two members of the Pussy Riot punk group were also freed.

Khodorkovsky Sentiment

“Perhaps Khodorkovsky’s amnesty has helped the sentiment, but the government will have to take many more steps to recover lost investor confidence,” Kopylov said.

The Moscow bourse will shut for four days to mark the New Year holiday starting Dec. 31. The exchange will also close on Jan. 7 for Russian Orthodox Christmas.

The dollar-denominated RTS Index fell 0.2 percent to 1,445.39. Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 developing-nation economies monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the benchmark Micex trading at 4.5 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 10.5 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

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