Russia markets ignore Chechen threat, track oil

Fri Aug 21, 2009 6:29am EDT

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MOSCOW Aug 21 (Reuters) - Russian markets, long resilient to violence on the country's southern flank, shrugged off claims on a rebel website that Chechen fighters had declared "economic war", as shares in key infrastructure companies rose.

The rouble did not react to Friday's claim, staying around 10 kopecks below Thursday's close against a basket of currencies RUS=MCX. The MICEX share index , trading little changed for most of the day, was up 0.5 percent at 1000 GMT.

Benchmark Brent crude prices LCOc1 gained 53 cents.

A Chechen rebel website declared "economic war" on Russia and claimed responsibility for an accident at a Siberian hydro dam that killed at least 30 people and a bomb attack on the Interior Ministry of a neighbouring southern republic which killed at least 20. [ID:nLL363525]

Traders dismissed the claim that Chechens had attacked the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro dam, a major asset of RusHydro (HYDR.MM), a popular company and aspiring blue chip stock.

"This is total nonsense, because nobody takes responsibility a week after a terrorist act," Otkrytiye trader Alexander Pankov said.

"Of course it wouldn't be too difficult to organise a diversion at one of these high security sites ... the issue is why would the rebels want to do it? Blowing up a hydropower dam isn't realistic."

Key infrastructure companies were steady to higher. Pipeline operator Transneft (TRNF_p.RTS) was up 1.74 percent, while the Federal Grid Co (FEES.MM) was up 0.42 percent by 0956 GMT.

RusHydro shares, which fell more than 15 percent in the days after the Monday blast, gained about 2.6 percent on Friday.

"Investors want to understand the stages in which the station will return to work, the economics of the project, and changes in the investment programme," Citi head of share trade Anatoly Darakov said.

(Reporting by Zlata Garasyuta and Olga Popova; writing by Melissa Akin; editing by John Stonestreet)

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