Russian stock market will partially reopen

Russian stock market
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Russian stock market will partially reopen

NEW YORK (AP) — The Russian stock market opened Thursday for limited trading under heavy restrictions for the first time since Moscow invaded Ukraine, coming almost a month after prices plunged and the market was shut down as a way to insulate the economy.

Trading of a limited number of stocks, including energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, took place under curbs meant to prevent a repeat of the massive selloff on Feb. 24 that came in anticipation of Western economic sanctions.

The significant restrictions on trading Thursday underlined the pressure Russia’s financial system is under despite central bank efforts to curb market plunges. Foreigners could not sell and traders were barred from short selling — or betting prices will fall — while the government has said it will spend $10 billion on shares in coming months, a move that should support prices.

The benchmark MOEX index gained 6.5% as some companies partially recovered losses from the plunge on the day of the invasion. Airline Aeroflot bucked the positive trend by losing 10.7% — not a surprise because it has suspended all international flights after the U.S., European Union and others banned Russian planes in their airspaces.

A U.S. official called the severely restricted market a “charade,” with only some listed shares trading and Russia making clear it would “pour government resources into artificially propping up the shares of companies that are trading.”

“This is not a real market and not a sustainable model, which only underscores Russia’s isolation from the global financial system,” Daleep Singh, a deputy national security and economic adviser to President Joe Biden, said in a statement.

Restrictions like shutting down and restricting the stock market are among those that Russia has taken to shore up the financial system against utter collapse, but they also close off the economy to trade and investment that could fuel growth.

The economic turmoil in Russia from sanctions and the war has been severe. Hundreds of U.S., European and Japanese companies have pulled out of Russia. There have been bank runs and panic buying of sugar and other staples. The exchange rate of Russia’s ruble has tumbled.

Outside Russia, the reopening of stock trading on the Moscow Exchange has little impact. Its market capitalization is a fraction of that of major Western or Asian markets. Plus, foreigners are barred from selling shares under rules imposed to counter Western sanctions.

Russian stock market, crushed by war, will partially reopen  The Associated Press – en Español


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Dean Nestor

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