Russian stocks set to slump as Moscow Stock Exchange reopens

The Moscow Stock Exchange will partially reopen on Thursday for trading in 33 companies, ending Russia’s historic shutdown of the market in the wake of western sanctions.

The bourse will resume trading in certain stocks following a near-month long record closure, including in some of Russia’s biggest companies such as Gazprom, Rosneft, Sberbank and VTB.

Russia’s central bank said the exchange will open between 9:50 am and 2pm local time, but short selling will be banned.

Foreign shareholders will also be unable to withdraw their investments due to restrictions on foreigners exiting local stocks.

The measure was introduced last month to shield Russia’s capital markets and economy from steep losses following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Hasnain Malik, a strategist at Tellimer, an equities research house, said: “The very limited re-opening will make little difference to foreigners who cannot sell and remain trapped, assuming they have not already marked down local holdings to zero.”

British investment giants such as Legal & General, Abrdn and Aviva have pledged to divest all of their Russian holdings at the earliest opportunity, but have so far struggled to do so, given the restrictions imposed on foreign investors.

Foreign holdings of Russian stocks stood at $ 86bn (£ 65bn) at the end of last year, according to data from the Moscow Exchange.

Despite the restrictions on foreign investors fleeing the country, analysts and traders are still preparing for a severe slump in prices as international sanctions hammer Russia’s economy, including its ability to access foreign reserves.

On the day Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, the Moex, Russia’s benchmark index, fell as much as 45pc, the biggest drop on record.

The Moscow Exchange will resume trading in 33 stocks out of 50 listed in the benchmark index on Thursday.

On Monday, the bourse was partially reopened but only bonds issued by the Russian government were allowed to be traded.

The exchange has been closed for stock trading since Feb 28. Prior to that, the longest closure of the exchange came in 1998, when Russia was in the midst of a severe financial crisis and shut the bourse for several days.


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