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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Stocks Post Slight Gain As Traders Predict Rally

Stock prices coasted on slow trading volume to end with a slight gain for the week, and the directionless dealings could spill over into next week's sessions, traders said Friday.

In Friday's trading, the Moscow Times Index of 50 leading issues gained 0.36 to finish at 128.28 in dollar terms, less than a 1 percent gain on the week. The ruble index crawled up 1.19 Friday to 307.73.

The markets appeared to shrug off positive news about President Boris Yeltsin's reform-minded cabinet appointments last week and Wednesday's release of a delayed IMF loan tranche to Russia. Meanwhile, traders said prices should be mixed next week ahead of a hoped-for September onrush of funds into Russia's capital markets.

"Demand from Western clients is not very active, partly because it's the season for vacation," said one equities trader.

Speculation about Yeltsin's health and a truce in Chechnya also seem to have been discounted, analysts said.

"People have heard this so many times that it has no almost effect on prices," said Gregory Van Beek of Rinaco-Plus. "Since the post-election sell-off, markets returned somewhat, only to see more profit-taking. When volumes fall like they did this week, prices do the same. However there is some domestic capital coming into the market and that's always a good sign."

"All indicators point to some sort of rally in the autumn," added Nick Mokhoff, chief trader at Alliance-Menatep.

Among individual issues active this week, United Energy Systems saw some intense buying ahead of an American Depositary Receipt offering that has been postponed several times, traders said. UES rose to $0.081 from $0.0804, LUKoil posted gains to close at $9.97 from $9.85. Meanwhile, Norilsk Nickel fell to $7.70 from $7.85 a share. Mosenergo rose to $0.97 from $0.96.

Gazprom's latest auction Thursday revived interest in the stock, which market watchers said has been moving up an average of 10 percent a week. On Friday, Gazprom shares fell to $0.445 from $0.55 Thursday.

Separately, a new round of Russian company privatizations next moth should lead with the sale of a 34 percent stake in oil concern AO Sidanko, in an auction preliminarily set for Sept. 11.

According to the rules of the auction, however, only one buyer is able to take part, expected to be banking giant Uneximbank, whose chairman was recently nominated as deputy prime minister for the economy.

The ruble Friday eased 8 to close at 5,326 to the dollar.