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Russian Stocks Fall Most in 5 Weeks as Ruble Drop Sinks Sberbank

Russian stocks fell the most in five weeks with banks pacing declines as economic data from Australia to the U.S. damped the global recovery outlook, exacerbating a slump in the ruble this year.

The Micex Index decreased the most since Jan. 6, retreating 1.2 percent to 1,478.62 by the close in Moscow. OAO Sberbank, the nation’s biggest lender, and competitor VTB Group both fell 1.6 percent. OAO Gazprom, the world’s largest producer of natural gas, lost 1.7 percent, ending a six-day rally.

Financial stocks fell as the ruble led declines against the dollar out of 24 developing-nation currencies tracked by Bloomberg after Australian unemployment reached a 10-year high, while U.S. jobless claims rose and retail sales fell. Oil, which along with natural gas provides about half of Russia’s budget revenue, fell from its highest closing level in almost four months in New York.

“Banks like Sberbank, VTB, suffer from the falling ruble,” Dmitry Mikhailov, a money manager at Alfa Capital Partners Ltd. in Moscow, where he helps manage about $3 billion, said by phone. “Today we’re seeing global risk aversion in the markets. My sense is we’ll see strong emerging-market outflows for this week.”

The dollar-denominated RTS Index fell 2.3 percent to 1,321.61 as the MSCI Emerging Markets Index had its first decline in three days. The ruble has slumped 6.6 percent against the dollar in 2014 and lost as much as 1.3 percent today.

Lenders Drop

Sberbank fell to 95.50 rubles, while VTB dropped to 4.575 kopeks. A kopek is one hundredth of a ruble. Russia’s consumer-loan growth will slow to 13 percent in 2014 from 17 percent last year, VTB Capital said in a note today. OAO Bank St. Petersburg declined 2.3 percent to 38.18 rubles after VTB Capital lowered the stock to hold, and set a 12-month price target of 46 rubles.

OAO Mobile TeleSystems, the nation’s biggest wireless operator, lost 2.6 percent to 294.80 rubles, while competitor OAO MegaFon dropped 1.9 percent to 1,080.30 rubles. OAO, Russia’s biggest electronics retailer, fell 2.8 percent to 242 rubles.

OAO Moscow Exchange rose 2 percent to 63.90 rubles after MSCI Inc. raised the stock’s weighting by 40 basis points to 0.9 percent in its Russia Index. The change takes effect from the close on Feb. 28, according to a statement on the MSCI website.

Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 developing nations monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the Micex trading at 3.1 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 9.2 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

The Micex Index has advanced 1.7 percent this month, supported by Chinese trade data and remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen on the U.S. economy. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much 1 percent today after the U.S. economic data were released.

“Falling oil isn’t helping us,” Vadim Bit-Avragim, who helps oversee about 148 billion rubles ($4.2 billion) at Kapital Asset Management LLP in Moscow, said by phone. “We’ve seen a small rally on the Chinese data and reassuring statements from Yellen, and now we’re reaping profits.”

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