Russian rainy-day fund shrinks 11.5% to $155 bln in February

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Vehicles travel along the embankment of the Moskva River during sunset, as the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is seen in the background, in Moscow, Russia October 25, 2021. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

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March 23 (Reuters) - (This March 23 story was refiled to fix typo in National Wealth Fund abbreviation.)

Russia's National Wealth Fund (NWF), which accumulates the country's oil revenues, fell 11.5% month-on-month to $154.8 billion in February as the value of Russian companies it was invested in sagged, finance ministry data showed on Wednesday.

Unprecedented Western sanctions against Russia for what Moscow calls "a special operation in Ukraine" that began on Feb. 24 have caused a big fall in Russian stocks.

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The NWF, originally designed to help balance the pension system, stood at 9.7% of gross domestic product projected in 2022 as of March 1, down from 10.2% of projected GDP, or $174.9 billion, a month earlier.

The fund's liquid assets stood at $116.6 billion, or 7.3% of projected 2022 GDP as of March 1 compared with $112.7 billion, or 6.6% of projected GDP a month earlier, the ministry said.

The fund's investment in ordinary shares of Russia's No.1 lender Sberbank (SBER.MM) was worth an estimated 1.5 trillion roubles, down from 3 trillion roubles a month earlier, while the value of its investment in flagship carrier Aeroflot (AFLT.MM) had shrunk to 30.7 billion roubles from 47.4 billion.

Russia had planned to use NWF money to replace part of state borrowing this year, while also planning to channel up to 1 trillion roubles of the fund's money to support the battered stock market, as authorities look for ways to shield the economy from sanctions.

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