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Russian Stocks Jump Most in Month on Sberbank Profit, Uralkali

Russian stocks rallied the most in almost a month as OAO Uralkali, the world’s biggest potash producer, surged on bets prices will rise and OAO Sberbank, the nation’s largest lender, gained after posting higher profit.

The Micex Index added 1.2 percent to 1,486.51 by the close in Moscow, the most since Dec. 16, paring this year’s slide to 1.2 percent. Uralkali advanced 6.7 percent to 179.35 rubles, its strongest gain since Sept. 9, while OAO Magnit rose after Bank of America Corp. analysts said Russia’s $2 trillion economy should improve in 2014. Sberbank, which has a 14 percent weighting on the Micex, increased 1.5 percent.

The benchmark equity gauge climbed after state-run Sberbank said lending growth helped lift preliminary 2013 net income under Russian accounting standards by 13 percent. Uralkali’s trading arm is seeking higher prices for Brazilian and Chinese buyers, according to researcher Argus FMB Potash and consulting company Fertecon Ltd. Uralkali’s press service declined to comment on price talks.

“Sberbank is maintaining positive results despite the economic slowdown,” Vadim Bit-Avragim, who helps oversee about 148 billion rubles ($4.4 billion) at Kapital Asset Management in Moscow, said by phone. Uralkali benefited from “speculation that Brazilian potash prices will increase,” he said.

Sberbank increased 1.5 percent to 100.69 rubles, the highest closing level this year. Its global depositary receipts added 1.3 percent to $12.17 in London.

Retailer Gains

Magnit had its steepest advance in Moscow since July 23, rising 5 percent to 8,819.70 rubles. UralSib Capital yesterday raised the stock to buy from hold, citing recent declines. Russia’s biggest grocer dropped the most since October 2011 on Jan. 10 after retail sales growth slowed to 23 percent in December from 29 percent a month earlier.

Magnit increased 3.5 percent to $61.45 in London, while Uralkali jumped 6.2 percent to $27.50.

“Investors panicked after Magnit’s results last week, now they’re buying the stock,” Bit-Avragim said.

OAO Rosneft, the nation’s biggest oil producer, gained 1.7 percent to 246.20 rubles, the most since Dec. 23. The company received about $20 billion as part of a $70 billion prepayment deal to supply crude to China National Petroleum Corp., according to two people with knowledge of the matter. State-run Rosneft got the first tranche of CNPC’s prepayment in two parts, it said on its website today. A company representative declined to give further details.

The dollar-denominated RTS Index increased 0.9 percent to 1,401.78, paring this year’s retreat to 2.8 percent.

Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 developing-nation economies monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the benchmark Micex trading at 4.4 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 10.03 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

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