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POLL-Russian shares to rise for rest of 2017 as economy returns to growth
March 29, 2017 / 11:04 AM / 6 months ago

POLL-Russian shares to rise for rest of 2017 as economy returns to growth

* cpurl://apps.cp./cms/?pageId=stock-index-poll Reuters poll data

* RTS index to rise 11 pct by end-2017

* Economic recovery to draw investors

* Oil prices expected to increase slightly

* Sanctions likely to stay in place

By Zlata Garasyuta and Alexander Winning

MOSCOW, March 29 (Reuters) - Russian shares are forecast to rise around 11 percent by the end of the year as investors turn more bullish around economic recovery and a modest increase in oil prices, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.

The RTS share index enjoyed a bumper 2016, rising 52 percent as the rouble rallied and prospects for an easing of Western sanctions grew with the U.S. election win of Donald Trump in November.

Although the RTS is down 2 percent this year as the chances of an imminent easing of sanctions have faded, analysts still see grounds for optimism.

Russia’s economy is expected to grow around 1.2 percent in 2017, after two consecutive years of economic contraction.

“Market participants are increasingly seeing an easing of anti-Russian sanctions as a potential pleasant surprise, not as their main scenario,” said Vladimir Miklashevsky, a trading desk strategist at Danske Bank.

“The main components of growth will be the lowering of (Russian) central bank rates, an improvement in the condition of the consumer and higher oil prices,” he said, predicting the RTS would end 2017 at 1,200 points.

The median forecast of 13 analysts, taken in the past week, was that the RTS would end 2017 at 1,250 points, versus its Tuesday close of 1,125.58 points.

Most analysts polled saw Brent crude oil in a range of $55-$60 a barrel, higher than its current level of $50.3 a barrel.

Oil and gas companies have a weighting of around 50 percent in the dollar-denominated index.

End-2017 forecasts in the latest quarterly poll ranged from 1,000 to 1,490 points, reflecting uncertainty as to what the next nine months hold.

In December, the median forecast was for the RTS to end the year at 1,200 points.

Victor Veselov at Globexbank was one of the most bearish in the March poll, predicting the RTS would end the year at 1,000 points. He said higher interest rates in the United States would boost the dollar and hurt the RTS.

Other stories from the Reuters global stock markets poll: Polling by Zlata Garasyuta and Alexander Winning Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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