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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RTS Hits 3rd Straight New High

Russian shares clocked up their third consecutive new closing high for the year Friday as traders anticipated a slew of Western buying in January.

The RTS index closed 0.5 percent higher at 248.470 on small turnover of $14.7 million, while the broader Reuters Russian Composite ended up 1.28 percent at 1,719.35.

The Reuters index of the ruble-based Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, dominated by local investors, finished up 1.16 percent at 1,206.50 on trade of 2.4 billion rubles ($80 million).

"The Westerners are waiting for Christmas, and the Russians are waiting for the Westerners," said Eric Kraus, chief strategist at NIKoil. "Russians are expecting a wall of foreign buying in January. There is good reason to believe it will come, but if it does not, we had better watch out."

Martin Diggle, a director at Brunswick UBS Warburg, said the financial crisis in Argentina was not affecting Russian markets. "No one is talking about it -- it has already been priced in, and people look at Russia as being different from Argentina anyway," he said.

Kraus said market players were picking up bargains found among less liquid stocks such as Unified Energy Systems preferreds, which ended up 4.93 percent at $0.1170, and Rostelecom preferreds, up 4.66 percent at $0.4788.

"The prefs are traded at a discount because of illiquidity and corporate governance concerns when they should really trade at a premium," Kraus said.

No. 2 oil firm Yukos ended up 1.32 percent at $4.975, while No. 6 Sibneft finished 2.68 percent higher at $0.6700.

The RTS index had gained 1.81 percent Thursday and 2.17 percent Wednesday.