Halt Can't Stop Share Plummet

Russian blue chips extended falls in London as trade was suspended in Moscow after the Central Bank eased the ruble lower, delivering another blow to confidence in Russian assets and sparking a fresh sell-off.

"Sentiment toward Russia is relentlessly negative," London-based UralSib equity trader Julian Rimmer said.

The ruble traded around the 30.70 mark versus a euro-dollar basket, seen as the Central Bank's new support level, after the currency was allowed to weaken 1 percent Tuesday.

As the FTSE 100 rose 1.21 percent, the FTSE Russia index of Global Depositary Receipts traded in London fell 8.42 percent while Moscow trading floors remained closed.

MICEX suspended trade the previous evening until Thursday.

The RTS extended a one-hour, limit-down halt for an unspecified period with the benchmark index at a two-week low of 634.94, a 12.53 percent decline from the previous day's close.

A renewed state probe of a two-year-old mine accident at potash miner Uralkali has raised fears of a state asset-grab, sending investors fleeing a widely held stock. Uralkali GDRs steadied on Wednesday after losses exceeding 70 percent over three sessions.

Transneft fell 26 percent on the RTS and Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works fell 16 percent in London after MSCI Barra deleted the firms' shares from its benchmark emerging-markets and Russia indexes. (Reuters, Bloomberg)