Russia’s Micex Index Extends 2013 Gains as VTB to MegaFon Rise

Russian shares extended this year’s gains as OAO MegaFon and VTB Group climbed.

The Micex Index added less than 0.1 percent to 1,501.47 by the close in Moscow, heading for a 1.8 percent increase in 2013. Of 50 stocks, 21 rose, 28 dropped and one was unchanged. MegaFon, Russia’s second-largest mobile-phone operator, closed up 1.2 percent at 1,119.20 rubles, taking its rally this year to 55 percent. VTB, the nation’s second-biggest lender, gained 0.7 percent to 4.95 kopeks.

The Micex has climbed 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 boosted by President Vladimir Putin’s decision to pardon imprisoned former Yukos Oil Co. owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky last week. U.S. and most global markets were closed for Christmas Day yesterday.

“In the absence of foreign players, the market is quiet,” Evgeny Shatrov, a trader at Sberbank CIB in Moscow, said by phone. “There’s little liquidity. I’m expecting the market to rise further before the year-end.”

The Moscow bourse is shut for five days for New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas holidays starting Dec. 31 and with trading Jan. 6 and Jan. 8. OAO Mechel, the nation’s biggest coking-coal producer fell 3.5 percent to 65.50 rubles, poised for a 68 percent slump this year.

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.

The dollar-denominated RTS Index climbed less than 0.1 percent to 1,448.29. 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 10.4 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

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