MOSCOW Nov 20 Russian corporate woes dragged
Moscow shares lower on Wednesday as some investors kept to the
sidelines awaiting further clarity on when the U.S. Federal
Reserve may start to wind down its stimulus programme.
Coal miner Mechel, which has had difficulty
restructuring its $9.6 billion in debt, fell a further 1.9
percent and now trades some 30 percent below levels seen earlier
Shares of the state-controlled telecoms operator Rostelecom
also traded 1.9 percent lower on reports of a delay in
government approval of its joint-venture with Tele2 Russia.
The declines took their toll on the wider Moscow Exchange,
with the dollar-denominated RTS index trading 0.7
percent lower at 1,445 points. The rouble-traded MICEX
was down 0.6 percent at 1,502 points.
The rouble traded near one-week lows on Wednesday, trading
unchanged on the day against the dollar at 32.75.
It was 0.1 percent weaker at 44.35 against the
This left the rouble virtually unchanged against the
dollar-euro basket at 37.97.
Rostelecom plans to contribute its wireless business to an
alliance with Tele2 Russia, a former unit of Sweden's Tele2
now owned by VTB and investors led by
banker Yuri Kovalchuk, a long-time associate of President
JOINT VENTURE DOUBTS
But on Wednesday, the daily Kommersant reported that the
government had not sent its decision to the company's board of
directors, which had been due to approve the merger on Tuesday.
"The potential integration of Rostelecom's mobile assets
with Tele2 will be a strategically logical development for
Rostelecom," analysts at Uralsib wrote in a note.
"However, it appears the creation of the joint-venture is
still in doubt and we expect Rostelecom stock to be driven by
contradictory news flow rather than fundamentals in the short
term," they said.
Investors were also awaiting clues on the U.S. withdrawal of
its stimulus programme, with the minutes of the Fed's October
policy meeting due to be published later on Wednesday.
However, with signs that other central banks may still
continue pumping money into the markets, the decline on the
Moscow Exchange may not be long-lasting, analysts said.
"In recent days we have increased the proportion of shares
in our portfolio as potential for market growth remains, given
the willingness of central banks to stimulate the economy,"
analysts at Promsvyaz investment company wrote in a note.
For rouble poll data see
For Russian equities guide see
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Russia in graphics: link.reuters.com/dun63s
(Additional reporting by Maya Nikolaeva; Writing by Lidia
Kelly; Editing by Gareth Jones)