Russia Stocks Climb as Norilsk to Rosneft Gain on Ruble Weakness

Russian stocks rose the most in almost two months, extending this week’s advance as the weaker ruble boosted exporters.

The Micex Index added 1.2 percent, the biggest increase since Dec. 16, to 1,496.18 by the close in Moscow. OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal, gained 2.1 percent to 5.695 rubles. OAO Rosneft, the nation’s biggest oil producer, rose 1.5 percent to 247.35 rubles, while OAO Gazprom advanced 2.1 percent to 149 rubles.

The ruble’s slump is swelling exporters’ local-currency proceeds from overseas sales and bolstering profit margins. The Micex is up 2.9 percent this month, supported by better-than-expected Chinese trade data and remarks by Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen that the U.S. economy is improving.

“The weaker the ruble is, the better for exporters, like Norilsk, as well as for other metal producers and oil and gas companies,” Ovanes Oganisyan, a strategist at MidLincoln Research in Moscow, said by phone. “This week we’re seeing a return of investor interest for emerging markets. Yellen, Chinese data have helped improve the image of riskier assets.”

OAO Severstal increased 2.5 percent to 296.30 rubles. United Co. Rusal added 2.1 percent to 121.05 rubles, the highest level since Jan. 28.

The dollar-denominated RTS Index gained 1.6 percent today to 1,343.20. The ruble has slumped 6.4 percent against the dollar in 2014, the worst performance after Argentina’s peso among 24 developing-country peers tracked by Bloomberg.

Rates Meeting

The currency added 0.1 percent versus the dollar today, erasing an earlier retreat, after Russia’s central bank signaled for the first time that it’s prepared to tighten monetary policy if ruble weakness adds to inflation risks.

The ruble fell to a record against Bank Rossii’s target basket of dollars and euros on Feb. 3, and traded little changed at 40.9690 today as the bank kept its key interest rate on hold for the 17th month.

“The currency market is at the center of attention,” Andrey Klapko, an analyst at OAO Gazprombank in Moscow, said by phone. “Gazprom, Rosneft are growing, export-oriented sectors favored by investors at such low ruble levels.”

Gazprom jumped 2.6 percent to $8.57 in London, while in Moscow, MSCI Inc.’s decision to raise the weighting of OAO Moscow Exchange in its Russia Index effective at the Feb. 28 close boosted the stock for a second day. It gained 3 percent to 65.79 rubles.

Food retailer OAO Magnit, advanced 1.9 percent. Lenta Ltd., a Russian hypermarket chain, said shareholders including U.S. leveraged buyout fund TPG Capital may raise as much as $1.26 billion in a London initial public offering.

Russian equities have the cheapest valuations among 21 developing nations monitored by Bloomberg, with shares on the Micex trading at 3.2 times projected 12-month earnings, compared with a multiple of 9.3 for the MSCI Emerging Markets Index.

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