Stocks Surge by Nearly 20%

The country's stock markets rallied nearly 20 percent for a third consecutive gain on Thursday, following a big rise in crude prices the day before and a coordinated international effort to boost liquidity.

The ruble-denominated MICEX Index shot up 19 percent, led by a 30 percent gain for Sberbank and increases of 25 percent and 20 percent for Rosneft and Gazprom, respectively. The dollar-denominated RTS Index finished the day up 18 percent.

The gains put the MICEX Index up 41 percent over the past three days, with the RTS Index rising 32 percent.

State-controlled Vneshekonombank, also known as the Development Bank, gave trading an extra shot of adrenaline after VEB chief Vladimir Dmitriyev said the state corporation was expecting to get up to 5 billion rubles ($190 million) per day from the Finance Ministry to purchase shares in domestic equity markets.

And although the promise of continuing equity-market support was encouraging, "international factors remain superior," said Nikolai Kashcheyev, head of economy research at MDM Bank.

"When they see oil rising, the dollar falling and global markets gaining, the Russian markets tend to move in this direction," he said.

Light crude oil prices rose 7.6 percent on Wednesday, its largest one-day gain since Sept. 22. It was down, however, by 1 percent at 7 p.m. on Thursday. Urals oil futures for November closed up 4.6 percent on the day, continuing a rally that began Tuesday.

"If it were only VEB's financing, it wouldn't be enough. Certainly, the main reason for the strong rise in the market has to do with higher oil prices and the appreciation of the ruble versus the dollar," said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank.

Shortly after the Russian markets opened, the dollar fell steeply against the ruble on the MICEX currency exchange. By closing, however, the dollar rebounded to be down only 17 kopeks, finishing at 26.78 rubles.

Billion-dollar loan programs from the International Monetary Fund and the U.S. Federal Reserve were seen as major factors in the emerging markets' surge.

The IMF began an initiative Wednesday that will commit up to $100 billion to countries with good financial "track records" that are in dire need of liquidity support. Ukraine, Hungary and Iceland are already guaranteed loans of $16.5 billion, $15.7 billion and $2.1 billion, respectively.

"This is general positive sentiment for all emerging markets," said Thomas Mundy, equity strategist at Renaissance Capital.

Additionally, the Federal Reserve promised $30 billion of support to Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Singapore, which triggered leaps in equity markets around the world, including a 20 percent rise on South Korea's Riobex market.

Some market players also said an interest-rate cut in the United States helped Thursday's trading. The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark federal funds rate, which banks use to lend to each other overnight, to 1 percent Wednesday.

"The primary external factor was the global wave of positivity that spread after the U.S. Federal Reserve expectedly lowered rates last night," said John Heisel, an equity sales trader at Citigroup.

"This led to short positions being covered, as well as long positions being cautiously opened."