Russia Stocks Climb First Day in Three as Sberbank, Gazprom Rise

Russian equities rose for the first time in three days as oil pared losses and OAO Gazprom and OAO Sberbank, the biggest stocks on the benchmark index, advanced.

The Micex Index erased a drop of as much as 0.7 percent to close up 0.1 percent at 1,510.35 in Moscow. Gazprom, Russia’s natural-gas export monopoly, rose 1.4 percent. Sberbank, the country’s largest lender, increased 1.1 percent. The shares have a combined weight of almost 30 percent in the Micex.

Oil, Russia’s main export earner, rebounded as much as 0.1 percent to $95.99 a barrel before the close of trading in Moscow, paring a 0.4 percent slide. U.S. markets were shut for a public holiday and trading volumes were down about 50 percent on the Micex. The gauge has lost 2.4 percent this month after rallying 4.9 percent in both December and January.

“Our market has been in this odd limbo for about a month now,” Stanislav Kopylov, who helps manage about $3.4 billion at UralSib Capital in Moscow, said by phone. “Russia is unloved.”

OAO Novorossiysk Commercial Sea Port retreated as much as 4.4 percent before closing down 1.5 percent at 3.75 rubles.

Novorossiysk’s board should resign amid weak earnings last year and the possibility Russia’s largest Black Sea harbor may be unable to service its debts in 2014, OAO Transneft Vice President Maxim Grishanin said at a conference in Moscow today. Transneft and Summa Group control 50.1 percent of the port.

“This is just another excuse for the shareholder conflict escalation,” Nikita Melnikov, an analyst at Aton Capital LLC, said by phone. “This conflict is rather negative, Transneft’s opinion seems to have been ignored and now they’re trying to retaliate.”

Price Swings

OAO Dixy Group advanced 2.3 percent, the biggest gainer on the Micex. The dollar-denominated RTS Index added less than 0.1 percent to 1,578.65.

Thirty-day price swings on the Micex dropped to 11.688 and the number of shares traded on the gauge was 50 percent below the gauge’s 10-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Russian equities have the lowest valuations based on estimated earnings among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg. The Micex index trades at about 5.7 times estimated earnings and has added 2.4 percent this year. That compares with a multiple of 10 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which has gained 0.7 percent over the same period.

‘Policital’ IPO

The Micex and the RTS are operated by the Moscow Exchange, which was created in a merger between competing bourses in 2011. The bourse raised $498 million in the biggest initial share sale in Russia since 2007 last week and priced its shares at the bottom of its target range.

The IPO “was a political, rather than a market IPO,” Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief strategist at Otkritie, the third-biggest trader of Russian equities, said by phone from Moscow Feb. 15.

The Kremlin-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund invested $80 million in the IPO and attracted $200 million from other funds, Chief Executive Officer Kirill Dmitriev said Feb. 15. Chengdong Investment Corp., a unit of Chinese sovereign wealth fund CIC International Co., also invested, according to two people with knowledge of the deal who asked not to be named.

The deal values the bourse at 126.9 billion rubles ($4.2 billion), according to an e-mailed statement from Feb. 15. The shares, which trade under the MOEX RX ticker, were priced at 55 rubles each, at the bottom of its target range. The exchange’s shares rose 2 percent to 56.11 rubles today.

The Standard & Poor’s GSCI Index of commodities lost 0.5 percent to 675.95. The Russian Depositary Index gained 0.2 percent led by depositary receipts of Gazprom, which rose 1.4 percent. Most metals on the London Metal Exchange fell, including nickel and tin.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF, the largest dedicated Russian exchange-traded fund, decreased 1.1 percent to $29.99 on Feb. 15. The RTS Volatility Index, which measures expected swings in futures, rose 1.4 percent to 22.11 points. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the most-traded Russian stocks in the U.S. declined 0.8 percent on Feb. 15.

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