Russian stocks shrug off sanctions, ruble steady

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Russian stocks climbed after a short-lived slide in early trading on Wednesday, brushing off reports of new Western sanctions against Moscow on top of unprecedented punitive measures already imposed.

The ruble-based MOEX benchmark was up more than 1% by 10:00 GMT, reversing earlier losses. The dollar-denominated RTS index of leading Russian stocks also recovered, trading 1.4% higher.

Shares in Russia’s energy giants Lukoil and Gazprom Neft were both up by 3.5% and 2.5%, respectively.

The ruble stabilized at 83.42 to the dollar and gained 1.1% to trade at 90.52 versus the euro. In recent weeks, the Russian currency got a boost from capital controls as well as from President Vladimir Putin’s demand that “unfriendly states” pay for Russian natural gas in rubles.

Equities lost ground at the opening on reports that the US and its allies had prepared new sanctions that will target Russian banks and officials and ban new investment in Russia. An EU official told Reuters that the bloc will also have to introduce measures against imports of Russian oil and even gas at some point as a way to pressure Moscow.

The Russian stock market reopened for the first time in a month on March 24. The MOEX nosedived on February 24, when Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine. On February 28, trading was suspended until further notice as Western sanctions targeting Russia’s financial system threw stock markets into turmoil. – rt