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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lack of News Leaves Market Drifting

Shares ended little changed Wednesday as a lack of fresh developments left the market drifting, traders said.

"There may be some possibility of change if the story with [acting Prime Minister Vladimir] Putin has any dramatic developments, but that looks unlikely," said one Russia trader, adding that the State Duma was expected to confirm Putin's appointment Monday.

"The market expects him to be approved, and to bring no real changes in economic policy. In a word, it will be business as usual."

The key RTS1-Interfax index, covering the main over-the-counter market, ended up a slight 0.35 percent at 102.78 on slow volume of $5.7 million. The broader Reuters Russian composite fell 1.57 percent to 394.37.

The dollar-denominated Moscow Times Index of 50 leading shares rose 0.57 percent to 78.94 on turnover of $6.57 million.

The Russian trader said President Boris Yeltsin's checkup at a military hospital Wednesday might provoke concerns about his health, but the news came too late to affect the market.

"It probably won't tomorrow [Thursday] either," he said. "Investors are already convinced Yeltsin's health is poor and so it doesn't have much affect on prices any more."

Traders said activity could pick up ahead of Monday's confirmation hearings on Putin, appointed acting primeminister by Yeltsin on Monday to replace sacked Sergei Stepashin.

The move sent prices into a tailspin, but they quickly closed in on previous levels and activity on the market has steadily fallen off since then.

Leading shares ended mixed but down from the day's highs.

National power grid Unified Energy Systems added a tiny 0.27 percent to end at $0.0752 while Surgutneftegaz rose 2.62 percent to $0.1565.

Russia's largest oil producer LUKoil slipped 1.27 percent to $7.80 and utility Mosenergo ended steady at $0.0324.