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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Latvian Gas Hits All-Time High

RIGA, Latvia -- Latvian Gas climbed to an all-time high to pull the Riga Stock Exchange up by Monday's close, but dealers said Ventspils Nafta would be the focus of trade this week as investors test higher levels.

The Riga Stock Exchange RICI index edged up 0.14 percent to 185.88 by the close on total equities turnover of 51,935 lats ($87,551). Government debt outshone shares in trade of 2.1 million lats on the secondary market.

Blue-chip gainers and decliners were evenly matched at two each, with other shares on the eight-issue official list flat or untraded.

Latvian Gas squeezed a 5 santim (8.53 cent) gain out of thin turnover to hit an all-time high of 2.10 lats ($3.52) as 2,097 shares changed hands. Dealers said the stock would be firm ahead of a March 27 bourse privatization auction for a 26-percent stake.

"A buyer is on the market. It looks like strategic interest, so that is good news for the privatization," said Girts Ozols, a broker with Hansabanka.

"There are no volumes ... but the market is strong. It doesn't look like it will go below 2 lats, and the auction price should be higher than the market price," Ozols said.

Shares in oil terminal Ventspils Nafta ended flat versus Friday's 10-month closing high of 0.63 lats as bargain hunters pulled it back from Monday's intra-session low of 0.61 lats.

Dealers said investors would continue to probe for upside this week. The stock is currently up over 25 percent from its 2000 low on better than expected throughput volumes and talk of a possible refinery project in Latvia.

Unibanka pulled up a santim late in the session to finish at 1.79 lats. Dealers saw it stable at its current level, but upstaged until Ventspils cools.