Russian stock market, crushed by war, will partially reopen – Times of India


NEW YORK: Russia is reopening its stock market for limited trading nearly one month after shares plunged and the exchange was shut down following the invasion of Ukraine. There will be heavy restrictions on trading Thursday as the exchange opens to prevent the kind of massive selloff that took place on Feb. 24 in anticipation of crushing financial and economic sanctions from Western nations.
The reopening of the Moscow exchange has only minimal significance for investors outside Russia and scant economic impact compared with barrage of US-led sanctions and withdrawals by foreign corporations.
The average exposure by a US investor through a mutual fund or retirement account to Russia is exceedingly small, according to Ben Johnson, director of global ETF research at Morningstar.
“If someone is holding a traditional 60per cent stock, 40per cent bond portfolio matched to a global index, their exposure to Russia would be roughly 0.02per cent of their portfolio,” Johnson said. “Russia barely registers.”
Hundreds of US, European and Japanese companies have pulled out of the country; there have been bank runs and panic buying of staples like sugar; and Russia’s currency, the ruble, has languished.
Under the restrictions in place, foreign shareholders will be unable to sell shares – a rule imposed to counter Western sanctions against Russia’s weakening financial system and currency.
Trading will be allowed in 33 of the 50 companies that are part of the country’s benchmark MOEX index, including air carrier Aeroflot, state-owned gas producer Gazprom and the oil company Rosneft, according to a central bank announcement about the reopening.
Stocks last traded in Moscow on Feb. 25. A day earlier the MOEX sank 33per cent after Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
Investor sentiment could be difficult to judge given the restraints in force. The country has banned short-selling, in which investors essentially bet on stock prices to go down.
Moscow’s stock exchange is tiny, with a market capitalization of about $773 billion at the end of last year, according to the World Federation of Exchanges. That is dwarfed by the New York Stock Exchange, where the total of all equities is roughly $28 trillion.
It took nearly a month for Russia’s central bank to relaunch trading in local government bonds, denominated in rubles.
Average Russians do trade in in Russian stocks: the central bank estimates that roughly 7.7 trillion rubles, equal to roughly $79 billion, of Russia’s stock was owned by retail investors as of late 2021.
Russia’s government may intervene to support its companies and investors. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said March 1 that the country’s National Wealth Fund would purchase up to $10.2 billion in Russian shares by the end of the year.
Before the war, foreign investors were showing growing interest in Russian stocks as an emerging markets opportunity. But roughly a week into the war, Russia was removed from emerging markets indexes compiled by MSCI, a division of Morgan Stanley.
MCSI said that after consultation with a large number of asset managers it determined the Russian stock market to be “uninvestable.” That took away a primary incentive for fund managers to invest there.


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