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Oct. 3, 2008, 4:02 p.m. EDT

Russian equities tumble, forcing trading suspension

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By Polya Lesova, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Oil and mining shares led a broad-based tumble in Russian equities Friday, forcing the suspension of trading three times on the RTS stock exchange, as the ongoing sell-off in Russian shares shows no sign of abating.

The dollar-denominated RTS stock index fell 7.1% to end at 1,070 points. The index posted a weekly loss of 17%.

Trading on the RTS stock exchange was suspended three times for one hour each time, because the technical index fell more than 5% compared to the opening value.

In recent weeks, Russian's two stock exchanges have suspended trading on numerous occasions to halt a slide in shares.

At Micex, Moscow's other stock exchange, the ruble-denominated Micex index fell 5.3% Friday.

On the RTS exchange, the RTS Oil and Gas index fell 8% and the RTS Metals and Mining index tumbled 10%.

Shares of state-controlled VTB Bank fell Friday after it said that the bank's nine-month net profit dropped to 7.4 billion rubles as of Oct.1, down from 16.8 billion rubles as of Sept.1.

"These results were primarily caused by negative trends in stock markets and the following reassessment of the Bank's securities portfolio," VTB said in a statement.

The Russian equity markets have been hit hard by the global credit crisis. The RTS stock index has tumbled 53% this year, making it one of the worst performers among global emerging markets.

Investors have pulled billions of dollars out of Russia on concerns over the credit crisis, falling oil prices and state interference in the economy, as well as escalating geopolitical tensions with the West after the military conflict between Georgia and Russia.

Capital outflows

Net capital outflows from Russia totaled $16.7 billion in the third quarter of this year, the central bank said Friday citing preliminary data. In contrast, during the second quarter of the year, there were net capital inflows of $40.7 billion.

"There's tremendous change of perception about Russia," said Lars Christensen, senior analyst at Danske Bank. "Russia was a safe haven within the global economy and that safe haven status completely disappeared."

"If oil prices continue to tumble, I have a hard time seeing a sustainable rebound in Russian asset prices," Christensen said.

The recent sharp decline in the prices of many commodities, such as oil, has weighed heavily on the Russian equity markets, which are dominated by oil and gas stocks.

"A lot of investors had become too complacent that we can only have 8% or 9% growth in the Russian economy," Christensen said. "We do not see a crash landing, but we see a relatively sharp growth slowdown."

In other news, Oleg Deripaska's Russian Machines said Friday it has terminated its $1.54 billion investment in the Canadian automotive supplier Magna /zigman2/quotes/204433886/composite MGA -0.07% because of the global financial crisis. See Emerging Markets Report.

Russian Machines is a subsidiary of Basic Element, the holding company of Russian oligarch Deripaska.

In New York, the Market-Vectors Russia ETF , which tracks the performance of the Russian stock market, fell 8.6%.

$ 53.61
-0.04 -0.07%
Volume: 803,769
Sept. 29, 2023 4:00p
P/E Ratio
Dividend Yield
Market Cap
$15.36 billion
Rev. per Employee

Polya Lesova is a New York-based reporter for MarketWatch.

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