Russian stocks hit 3-plus-month high, ruble hovers around 60 against dollar

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s benchmark MOEX stock index hit its highest level in more than three months on Friday, as investors bet on other companies following Gazprom’s lead in recommending dividends, while the he index weakened towards 61 against the dollar and the euro.

Gas giant Gazprom’s board this week recommended paying 51.03 rubles ($0.8456) per common share in dividends in the first half of 2022, pushing the company’s shares up around 25% and supporting Russian clues.

“Investors seem to have rejoiced and hoped that the dividend idea is alive and that other Russian companies will join Gazprom gradually driving up the market,” said Alexander Arutyunyan, chief economist at Russ-Invest.

As of 1532 GMT, Russia’s ruble-based MOEX index was up 0.9% to 2,467.4 points, its highest mark since May 18.

The dollar-denominated RTS index fell 0.1% to 1,278.2 points, slipping slightly from a nearly two-month high.

“Investors may want to cash in ahead of the weekend, although we still believe iMOEX remains in an uptrend,” BCS Global Markets said in a note.

The ruble has been hovering around 60 to the dollar and euro for the past few weeks, but fell to around 61 ahead of the weekend.

The ruble weakened 0.9% against the dollar to 60.84 and fell 1.6% to trade at 60.87 against the euro.

Promsvyazbank analysts said the ruble will remain in the 60-61 range against the dollar on Friday.

Volatility has eased since hitting a record low of 121.53 to the dollar in Moscow trading in March, shortly after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine. It then hit a seven-year high of 50.01 to the dollar in June.

So far this year, the ruble has been the world’s best-performing currency, buoyed by emergency capital controls put in place by the central bank in a bid to stop a sell-off. This averted an economic collapse that many had predicted.

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

(Reporting by Alexander MarrowEditing by Gareth Jones)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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