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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shares Drift Slightly Upward, But Clear Direction Absent

Russian shares ended firmer in thin trade Friday as the market slowly drifted upward by the close, though there was no clear direction.

The dollar-denominated Moscow Times Index of 50 leading shares rose 2.6 percent to 65.45 on turnover of $6.94 million, while the RTS index rose 1.66 percent to 84.50.

"There has been no rhyme nor reason to the market's movements lately, and there isn't likely to be any until investors get some concrete news to sink their teeth into," one Western trader said.

He said one issue being watched was political maneuvering ahead of December's parliamentary election.

"I think that as we get closer to the elections and clear leaders begin to emerge, investors will feel much less hesitant about the market," he said.

Traders said investors were also eyeing Russia's conflict with the rebel region of Chechnya.

"Should more bombs explode in Moscow, or should Russia suffer significant losses, then there is a real risk that more investors may leave the market," brokerage Troika Dialog said in a Friday report.

Russia has been bombing sites in Chechnya that it says could be of use to Islamic guerrillas, who have twice invaded the neighboring region of Dagestan and are accused of organizing bomb blasts in Russia that killed nearly 300 people.

Top shares ended generally firmer with power utility UES up 2.87 percent at $0.0538, while Mosenergo rose 2.73 percent to 2.63 cents.