Gazprom Neft Leads Russian ADRs Lower as Crude Extends Decline

OAO Gazprom Neft tumbled the most in seven weeks, leading a slump in U.S.-traded Russian stocks as crude prices extended their decline from this year’s high, prompting investors to withdraw from the world’s largest energy exporter.

The oil producer’s American depositary receipts sank 3.8 percent to $11.80 in New York. Trading volume was more than 4 times the daily average of the past three months. It was the worst performance in the Bloomberg Russia-US Equity Index, which slid to a two-week low.

Stocks declined as Brent crude, which traders use to price the country’s main export blend, fell 1.6 percent to $56.13, pushing the decline from its May 6 high to 17 percent. Oil, which is selling at about three-fifths its five-year average price, is the country’s biggest export and, along with natural gas, accounts for about half its budget revenue. Lower prices, combined with sanctions linked to the Ukraine conflict, are pushing Russia toward what economists forecast will be its first recession since 2009.

“There is no true desire among international investors for going back to Russia as the market goes south with oil,” Kirill Yankovskiy, the director of equity sales at Otkritie Capital Ltd. in London, said by phone Wednesday. “If we look at it realistically, no one has a clue of where the oil price will settle.”

Economic Contraction

Russia’s gross domestic product, which the government said shrank 1.9 percent in the first three months of this year, is forecast to contract 3.5 percent in 2015, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. A Bloomberg gauge of raw-material prices slid 1.1 percent Wednesday to a 13-year low.

The Bloomberg index of U.S.-traded Russian stocks slid 1.6 percent to 53.72. Oil producer OAO Surgutneftegas dropped 2.6 percent to $5.54. Natural gas exporter OAO Gazprom fell 2.4 percent to $4.82. The Market Vectors Russia ETF declined 2.1 percent to $17.54.

Stocks had rebounded earlier this year as a slump in oil prices that tipped Russian stocks into the world’s biggest decline in 2014 appeared to reach a bottom and a cease-fire in Ukraine led to a period of relative calm. Sentiment has shifted as crude resumed its decline and flareups in the former Soviet republic damped optimism that the U.S. and its allies would ease off of sanctions including financing restrictions and export bans.

Ukraine Conflict

Ukrainian government officials and separatists failed to sign an agreement on a weapons pullback this week. The 16-month crisis still “simmering in the background,” along with the commodities selloff, concern about China and Iran as well as the timing of a U.S. interest rate increase are all weighing on Russian stocks, Nicholas Spiro, the managing director of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, said by phone Wednesday.

“This is one more reason, a confirmation if any were needed, that the sharp rally in Russian assets which we saw at the beginning of this year should have been treated with extreme caution,” he said. “When sentiment toward Russian stocks deteriorates, all these factors start to feed on each other.”