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CORRECTED-Russian markets mark time after relief rally
April 1, 2014 / 8:57 AM / in 4 years

CORRECTED-Russian markets mark time after relief rally

(Corrects rouble/dollar rate in para 13)

MOSCOW, April 1 (Reuters) - A rally in Russian stocks and the rouble petered out on Tuesday morning, as investors took profits on Monday’s rebound, which was linked to easing tensions around Ukraine.

Russian stock indexes rose in early trading but then fell back towards opening levels. At 0850 GMT the rouble-denominated MICEX index was down 0.1 percent at 1,367 points while the dollar-based RTS index was flat at 1,226 points.

MICEX remains down 5.4 percent and the RTS down 3.2 percent since the end of February, before the threat of Russian military intervention in Ukraine caused a dramatic sell-off.

Russian asset prices had surged on Monday following diplomatic moves over the weekend to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis, and reports that Russia was withdrawing some troops from its border with Ukraine.

“The very fact of negotiations has reassured investors that nothing bad will happen - bad in the sense of war,” said Oleg Dushin, chief analyst at Zerich Capital Management.

“The news (of a Russian troop withdrawal) helped Russian shares, and today we have simply flown into a situation where shares are overbought ... People are simply fixing profits,” he said.

Analysts say that although negotiations around Ukraine have encouraged investors they have yet to deliver much in the way of tangible results.

Shares in Russia’s top natural gas producer Gazprom underperformed the market, falling 0.5 percent.

The market shrugged off Gazprom’s announcement that it would raise the price of gas it sells to Ukraine by more than 40 percent - as Moscow stepped up economic pressure on Kiev - as the increase was in line with market expectations and would be offset by a rise in duties on gas exports.

Gazprom will charge Ukraine $385.5 per 1000 cubic metres in the second quarter from the previous rate of $268.5.

“A discount cancellation would be neutral for Gazprom’s earnings, as it would be coupled with a $100/mcm increase in duties levied on gas exported to Ukraine,” Alfa Bank said in a report. “Also, if Ukraine refuses to recognize the cancellation, this would increase the risk of further debt accumulation (currently $1.75bn) to Gazprom, suggesting the risk of a drag on Gazprom earnings.”

A rally in the rouble also petered out. In early trading the dollar’s value against the rouble dipped below the 35 mark for the first time since February 13, before edging back towards opening levels.

At 0850 GMT the rouble was up 0.1 percent at 35.08 against the dollar, and 0.1 percent weaker at 48.42 against the euro.

It had shed 0.1 percent to 41.12 against the dollar-euro basket.

The rouble is still down 7 percent against the dollar since the start of this year, one of the worst-performing emerging market currencies, said ING economist Dmitry Polevoy in a note.

He attributed the rouble’s rally on Monday to “an avalanche of demand from non-residents for shares and bonds, and also, probably, a reduction of long positions in foreign currency.”

“For some reason everyone is encouraged by the results of negotiations (over Ukraine),” he said, “although basically they haven’t brought anything new except hopes”.

For rouble poll data see

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Russia in graphics: link.reuters.com/dun63s (Reporting By Jason Bush; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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