December 19, 2018 / 8:31 AM / in a month

Russia's Saint-Petersburg Exchange sees trading soar in 2018

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s Saint-Petersburg Exchange saw the number of clients and volumes soar this year, helped by its service that allows investors trade in U.S. stock via the bourse.

The number of client accounts had reached 46,000 in early December up from about 7,000 at the start of 2018. Turnover in November jumped to $1.1 billion from $453 million in January.

The bourse offers trading in U.S. stocks in the S&P 500 index. Deals are concluded under Russian law and settled in dollars. U.S. shares are held by Russia’s Settlement Depository Company and can be transferred to any depository worldwide.

Buyers of U.S. stocks on the Saint-Petersburg Exchange receive dividends as other stockholders.

The bourse’s bigger local rival, the Moscow Exchange (MOEX.MM), said this year it would make a similar offering but then put off the plan. The Saint-Petersburg Exchange said this helped lift interest in its existing service.

“When the Moscow Exchange planned to launch trading in foreign securities, everyone called us,” Saint-Petersburg Exchange Chairman Roman Goryunov said. “It was an excellent opportunity to talk about our already working project.”

He said demand for foreign stocks was strong. “There is a big inflow of new clients who want to buy a well-known name,” he said.

The Moscow Exchange said it was still working on plans to give clients access to U.S. stocks.

“It’s no longer a priority but we did not abandon it,” Chief Executive Alexander Afanasiev told reporters, adding that the Moscow bourse wanted to ensure it could avoid risks related to tax, legal and infrastructure issues.

The Russian central bank has said investment in foreign shares deprives the Russian economy of investment capital.

Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Additional reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; Writing by Anna Pruchnicka; Editing by Edmund Blair

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