Ruble to Micex Index Rise Amid Diplomatic Talks Over Ukraine

The ruble gained the most against the dollar this month and stocks rose for a second day amid talks in Geneva aimed at resolving the Ukrainian crisis.

The ruble advanced 0.7 percent to 35.7460 per dollar by 6 p.m. in Moscow, the most since March 31 on a closing basis. The Micex Index of stocks gained 0.5 percent to 1,329.67. The yield on ruble debt due February 2027 fell two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 9.17 percent.

President Vladimir Putin said today that while he hopes he won’t have to use his “right” to send troops to Ukraine, he pledged to defend compatriots outside Russia and rejected statements from Ukraine that he’d deployed troops there. U.S. and European leaders accuse Putin of stoking unrest and have threatened to extend sanctions. Foreign ministers from Russia and the Ukraine met with their counterparts from the U.S. and European Union today.

“The fact that nations are trying to resolve the conflict through diplomatic measures is positive,” Oleg Popov, who helps manage $1 billion of securities for Allianz Investments in Moscow, said by phone. “The main thing is for the sides to come to some agreement. Putin didn’t say anything that would move the market.”

U.S. President Barack Obama vowed that Russia will face increasing economic penalties unless Putin backs away from supporting separatist militias and pulls Russian troops from the border.

Ukraine Clashes

Ukrainian police killed three pro-Russian fighters and wounded 13 after an attack on a national-guard base in the southeastern city of Mariupol overnight, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook Inc. page. They detained 63 people and captured weapons and phones serviced by Russian mobile providers, Avakov said.

The European Parliament urged tougher European Union sanctions against Russia because of the Kremlin’s encroachment in eastern Ukraine, saying energy companies should be a target.

OAO Rosneft, the nation’s biggest oil company, added 1.3 percent to 228.45 rubles. OAO Magnit, the largest retailer, increased 1.1 percent to 7,750 rubles.

The ruble gained 0.4 percent against the euro at 49.5100 and 0.6 percent against the central bank’s target basket of dollars and euros to 41.94.

“Putin didn’t say anything to disturb the markets, and no bad news is now good news,” Vladimir Miklashevsky, strategist at Danske Bank A/S in Helsinki, said in e-mailed comments. “Now investors will be looking at what’s really happening on the ground in Ukraine.”

The Russian currency has depreciated 8.1 percent against the dollar this year. That’s the worst performance after Argentina’s peso among 24 developing-nation currencies monitored by Bloomberg.

The Micex has lost 8 percent since Putin’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea region at the start of last month. The gauge traded at 4.9 times estimated earnings, the cheapest valuation among 21 developing countries monitored by Bloomberg.

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