Russian Stocks Pause After Rise to 16-Week High as Gazprom Drops

The Micex Index was little changed at an almost four-month high after trading in Moscow was halted for more than an hour.

Russia’s main equities gauge was down less than 1 percent at 1,490.57 by 1.50 p.m. in Moscow. It had gained 1.4 percent in the three previous sessions to the highest since Feb. 18. Twenty-four stocks rose, with 25 retreating. OAO Gazprom declined 0.2 percent.

The Micex entered a bull market on June 6 after climbing 20 percent from a low on March 14, spurred by optimism that the crisis in Ukraine was easing, as valuations of Russian companies remained cheap. State-controlled gas company Gazprom agreed to extend until June 16 the deadline before Ukraine will be switched to prepayments for natural gas supplies as negotiations continue to reach a European Union-brokered deal.

“The market is stretched,” Joseph Dayan, head of markets at BCS Financial Group in London, said in e-mailed comments. “And not only in Russia. We will likely see some consolidation.”

Trading on Moscow Exchange was halted from 11.35 a.m. until 12.40 p.m. The bourse is investigating the reasons for the fault, it said in a statement on website.

Gazprom fell to 144.50 rubles per share, while smaller independent gas producer OAO Novatek declined 0.3 percent to 400.21 rubles.

Russian stocks are the cheapest among 21 emerging markets tracked by Bloomberg, trading at 5.4 times projected 12-month earnings.

Trading activity began to drop on the Russian equity market yesterday, and should fall further today before the long weekend, Slava Smolyaninov, strategist at UralSib Capital in Moscow, said in an e-mailed note. Moscow Exchange won’t trade stocks on June 12 and 13 because of public holidays.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.