Business

Russian stocks hit over 3-month high, rouble hovers near 60 vs dollar

Russia’s benchmark MOEX stock index climbed to its highest in more than three months on Friday, as investors bet on other companies following Gazprom’s lead in recommending dividends, while the weakened towards 61 against the dollar and euro.

Gas giant Gazprom’s (GAZP.MM) board this week recommended the payment of 51.03 roubles ($0.8456) per ordinary share in dividends on the first half of 2022, sending the company’s shares up around 25% and buoying Russian indexes.

“Investors seem to have cheered up and hopes that the dividend idea is alive and that other Russian companies will join with Gazprom are gradually moving the market upwards,” said Alexander Arutyunyan, chief economist at Russ-Invest.

By 1532 GMT, the rouble-based MOEX Russian index (.IMOEX) was 0.9% higher at 2,467.4 points, its strongest mark since May 18.

The dollar-denominated RTS index (.IRTS) was down 0.1% to 1,278.2 points, slipping slightly from a near two-month high.

“Investors may want to cash in ahead of the weekend, though we still believe that the iMOEX remains in a growing trend,” said BCS Global Markets in a note.

STEADY ROUBLE
The rouble has hovered near 60 to the dollar and euro for the past several weeks, but fell towards 61 ahead of the weekend.

The rouble was 0.9% weaker against the dollar at 60.84 and had lost 1.6% to trade at 60.87 versus the euro .

Promsvyazbank analysts said the rouble would remain in the 60-61 range against the dollar on Friday.

Volatility has subsided since it hit a record low of 121.53 per dollar in Moscow trade in March, soon after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. It then rallied to its strongest in seven years of 50.01 per dollar in June.

So far this year, the rouble has been the world’s best-performing currency, buoyed by emergency capital controls rolled out by the central bank in a bid to halt a mass sell-off. This helped to avoid an economic meltdown that many had predicted.

However, the central bank said Russian banks had lost a combined 1.5 trillion roubles ($24.86 billion) in the first six months of 2022, disclosing banking sector earnings on Friday for the first time since February.