* Magnit reports earnings next week
* Index heavyweights in the black
* Light trade ahead of long weekend in U.S.
* Rouble slips
(Adds details, updates prices)
MOSCOW, Jan 18 Russian stocks extended gains on Friday led by
food retailers in anticipation of strong results next week, although the rouble
At 1317 GMT, the rouble-based MICEX index rose 0.9 percent to 1,536.8
points, a four-month high, while the dollar-denominated RTS index was up
0.9 percent at 1,598.9 points, having touched eight-month highs during the
Stocks were supported by data showing economic growth in China, a major
customer for Russia's metals and energy exports, was slightly stronger than
expected in the last months of 2012. The sustained performance of top stocks
including Gazprom, which reported stronger third-quarter earnings on
Thursday, and Sberbank, also buoyed the index.
"We are overweight financials within Russia and Sberbank remains our
favorite vehicle for exposure... Yet keep an eye on VTB possibly going for a $3
billion share placement in second quarter 2013 as a technical risk," Alex
Kantarovich, head of Russian research at J.P. Morgan, said in a note.
Russia's Sberbank also helped to lift shares, rising 1.5 percent, as the
bank sector continued to gain on Thursday's growth, while Gazprom rose 0.6
percent. However, trading volumes were light before a long weekend in the United
States, where Monday is a market holiday.
Fast-growing retailer Magnit gained by 2.1 percent in anticipation
of full 2012 earnings on Tuesday. Analysts predict the chain has further to grow
in 2013 on the back of Russia's rising middle class. Food retailer Dixy
also outperformed the market, up 3.2 percent.
"The consumer sector is the most promising. All retailers still have vast
opportunities for business growth. It (the sector) is less dependent on global
economic cycles," said Ariel Chyorny, an analyst at Allianz Rosno.
The rouble slipped 0.3 percent against the dollar to 30.27
but firmed 0.1 percent against the euro to 40.34, leaving it down
0.1 percent at 34.81 against the dollar-euro basket.
"We believe dollar/rouble might be stuck in the 30.20-30.40 range for the
near term, as the market seems balanced in terms of supply and demand," VTB
Capital analysts commented. "On the other hand, the heaviest taxes are still
ahead of us, so exporters are likely to sell (foreign currency) even more."
They added that revived expectations of Euroclear starting to process OFZ
bonds could also fuel demand for the rouble. Russia's Federal Service for
Financial Markets said on Thursday it saw no legal or other obstacles to the
beginning of operations by Euroclear.
The yield on Russia's 10-year benchmark treasury bonds fell to
6.6 percent on Friday after rising to 6.66 percent during the previous session.
Russian Markets Latest Net % Change % Change
Change on year
MICEX 1536.82 13.08 0.86 9.60
RTS 1598.85 13.41 0.85 15.70
London ADRs 921.51 6.59 0.72 4.31
Emrg Mkt Indx 1080.29 7.14 0.67 2.38
MSCI Russia 847.71 6.04 0.72 4.98
Sberbank 102.68 1.53 1.51 10.48
VTB 0.06 0.00 0.78 8.60
Gazprom 148.60 0.90 0.61 3.41
LUKOIL 2016.00 3.30 0.16 0.79
Rostelecom 124.40 1.76 1.44 3.32
Dollar/Rouble 30.27 0.08 0.26 -0.44
Euro/Rouble 40.34 -0.04 -0.09 0.21
Rouble basket 34.81 0.03 0.08 -0.10
DEBT Bid Ask %Rtn Coupon
Russia 10-yr bond 6.59 6.58 0.40 7.60
MONEY MARKET Bid Ask Close
Overnight rate 5.33 5.84 5.15
All data taken from Reuters at 1317 GMT
(Writing by Reuters trainee Sonia Elks and Maya Dyakina, additional reporting
by Zlata Garasyuta, editing by Jason Bush/Ruth Pitchford)