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Russian stocks ease from recent highs, rouble edges towards 60 vs dollar

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MOSCOW — Russian stocks eased after a Gazprom-led surge in the previous session to their highest in recent months, following the gas giant’s decision to recommended interim dividends, while the rouble hovered near 60 against the dollar and euro.

Shares in Gazprom leapt around 25% on Wednesday after its board had recommended paying 51.03 roubles ($0.8484) per ordinary share in dividends on the first half of 2022, taking the overall dividend payout to around $20 billion.

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Its shares were down 0.3% on Thursday as of 0724 GMT.

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“Gazprom’s dividend payout could become a trigger for growth of the Russian stock market,” said Dmitry Skryabin, a portfolio manager at Alfa Capital. “The example of Gazprom may encourage dividend payments by other companies that have not paid out, but have the financial capacity to do so.”

The dollar-denominated RTS index, which had surged to a near two-month high in the previous session, was down 0.4% at 1,253.5 points.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.3% lower at 2.394.0 points, not far from the three month-high of 2,423.12 points, hit on Wednesday.

The rouble was edging towards 60 against the dollar and euro. It was 0.1% stronger against the dollar at 60.19 and had gained 0.3% to trade at 60.28 versus the euro.

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The rouble spent most of August near 60 per dollar. Volatility has subsided since it hit a record low of 121.53 per dollar in Moscow trade in March, soon after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. It then rallied to its strongest in seven years of 50.01 per dollar in June.

So far this year, the rouble has been the world’s best-performing currency, buoyed by emergency capital controls rolled out by the central bank in a bid to halt a mass sell-off. This helped to avoid economic meltdown that many had predicted.

Moscow Exchange on Thursday said it would relaunch the evening session on its stock market, running until 2050 GMT and morning trading on the currency market, starting at 0350 GMT, from Sept. 12.

The country’s largest bourse is seeking to gradually return some sense of normalcy to Russian financial markets after severe disruptions in February and March as Western sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine began to bite. ($1 = 60.1500 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Christopher Cushing)



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