Russia Stocks Erase Gains, Extend 1st Month Drop Since November

Russia’s benchmark equities gauge erased gains as commodities, including metals, retreated, weakening the outlook for producers.

The Micex Index closed down 0.1 percent at 1,486.04 in Moscow, after adding as much as 0.6 percent. That extended the measure’s first monthly drop since November to 3.9 percent. OAO Alrosa, the diamond monopoly, lost 3.9 percent, while OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the country’s biggest miner, retreated 1.7 percent.

Shares of basic materials companies fell 1 percent on average, the steepest decline on the Micex by industry. Copper and aluminum dropped on the London Metal Exchange. Russian equities have the lowest valuations based on estimated earnings among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg.

“Commodity prices are likely dragging down the index.” Michael Wang, an emerging-markets strategist at Amiya Capital LLP in London, said by e-mail. “Russia has been a bit disappointing -- low beta on the upside and high beta on the downside.”

The ruble weakend less than 0.1 percent to 30.5455 against the dollar. The dollar-denominated RTS Index added 0.3 percent to 1,534.41.

Shares of VTB Group, Russia’s second-biggest lender, climbed 1.4 percent. The bank’s shares have been included in the Moscow Exchange’s A list of stocks which pension funds can invest in, according to an e-mailed statement from the bourse today.

Rostelecom, MegaFon

OAO Rostelecom, Russia’s dominant fixed-line and long-distance phone operator, jumped 4.8 percent to 122.90 rubles, the biggest gainer on the index. OAO MegaFon, Russia’s second-biggest mobile-phone operator, closed up 3.2 percent at 861.20 rubles, its strongest advance since Jan. 17. The company posted a better-than-forecast 28 percent fourth-quarter profit jump.

Thirty-day price swings on the Micex fell to 11.691, the lowest in more than a week, while the number of shares traded on the gauge was 26 percent above the measure’s 30-day average, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The Micex trades at about 5.6 times estimated earnings and has added 0.8 percent this year. That compares with a multiple of 10 times for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, which is down 0.2 percent in the same period.

The Market Vectors Russia ETF, the largest dedicated Russian exchange-traded fund, fell 0.4 percent to $29.09 today. The RTS Volatility Index, which measures expected swings in the index futures, dropped 1.1 percent to 21.38. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index of the most-traded Russian stocks in the U.S. fell 0.5 percent.

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