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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wary West Blamed For Sluggish Bourse

The Russian stock market closed the summer season on a limp note Friday as Western investors hung back and traders saw few political or technical factors to give the market direction.

The Moscow Times Index of 50 leading issues gained just over 1 percent on the week, closing Friday at 129.74 in dollar terms and 313.40 in ruble prices. Trading remained thin, with one investment bank reporting volume on the Russian Trading System on Wednesday at its lowest level since the May holidays.

Viktor Kats, an equity and technical analyst at Sector Capital, said investors' "uncertainty" about political developments and prospects for peace in Chechnya contributed to the low volume.

Market players were divided over the likely trend of equities next week.

"Western clients should be getting back from vacation now and ready to start spending, especially after the long Labor Day weekend" that will close American exchanges Monday, said Yevgeny Turok, equity trader at United Financial Group.

But Nikolai Mokhov, head trader with Alliance-Menatep, said Western participants' wariness meant that investment now is "a mere trickle" and said "no significant amounts of new money are likely to come in until next year."

The market picked up slightly Friday, however. Mosenergo, stagnant throughout the week, saw increased trading early Friday, closing at $0.98, up 1.5 percent on the day. Unified Energy Systems also rose following Thursday's announcement of a forthcoming electricity tariff hike.

Market leader LUKoil, which Thursday announced increased production figures, gained early Friday but lost ground later.

Another oil issue, Surgutneftegaz, rose more than 5 percent on the week to $0.423, after gaining approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to issue American Depositary Receipts.

"Surgutneftegaz is one of the most attractive companies on the market today," said Mokhov, adding that the company is capable of topping its previous high of 60 cents a share.

Major decliners this week include Chernogorneft, off 20 percent, and Gazprom, which shed 15 percent. Big gainers included Lenenergo, up 18 percent, St. Petersburg Telephone, up 16 percent, and Purneftgaz, which climbed 12 percent.

?Prague's bourse was Eastern Europe's top performer this week, hitting year peaks that hoisted the Central European Share Index, or CESI, to a 1996 high, Reuters reported.