Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Shares End Off, Traders Unsure of Market Trend

Shares ended a touch lower Friday after a day of sluggish trade, with traders mixed about the market’s near- and medium-term prospects.

Some traders said fundamentals including strong oil prices provided grounds for more gains, while others saw the market overbought after its latest climb.

The dollar-denominated Moscow Times Index of 50 leading shares fell 1.22 percent to 185.59 on turnover of $23.377 million.

The RTS1-Interfax index closed 1.18 percent lower at 237.15 on reduced volume of $21.9 million. The broader Reuters Russian composite fell 1.37 percent to 2,258.87.

"People are divided about what to expect. A lot of arguments say that the market could still climb," said a Russian trader.

"But I think they are overshadowed by expectations that prices have to correct after all of the growth we’ve seen in the last month. People are going to want to play it safe."

But Alexander Lobanov, a trader at the Prospect brokerage, said that there was upside left.

"I think that the market is just correcting slightly after the hearty growth we had. This was more or less expected and there is no massive selling going on. You feel enough support in the market," he said.

Driven by strong oil prices, the market on Tuesday set a fresh 2000 closing high, but failed to match the intraday peak of 255.89 set in March, in the wake of the presidential election. Lobanov added that he saw the market on an up trend in three to four weeks, though the nearer term was less certain.

A Western trader said he was still hopeful of at least a limited upturn over the next week or so as people got down to work after Monday’s Labor Day holiday in the U.S.

"No matter how you look at it, a lot of people have been out of the market for the summer and I think there is a good chance that people are going to do some buying when the come back," he said. "It should be a knee-jerk reaction after the growth we’ve had. Some people are going to want to get into the market before it goes any higher. I think the long term is clearly up, and later on it will be tougher to buy in," the trader said.