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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Select Few Enjoy Lion's Share of RTS

Russia's booming stock market may be trading at levels not seen in nearly four years, but just a handful of players are getting all the action.

Figures released by the Russian Trading System on Wednesday show that $4.45 billion worth of shares traded hands on the key dollar-denominated market in 2001, with just five brokerages handling more than half of all transactions, two-thirds of which involved the stocks of just 10 companies.

Total volume for the year was the third-highest total in the stock market's brief six-year existence, as was its 98.5 percent growth rate, which the RTS now calculates using the difference between the first and last trading days of the year (Jan. 3 and Dec. 29). Previously, the RTS used the last trading days of consecutive years to calculate its official growth rate.

Despite being the world's best-performing bourse last year, the RTS grew at just half the rate it did in 1999, when the index was up a record 193.57 percent.

And the $4.45 billion total for last year is just three-quarters of the previous year's volume of $5.8 billion, although the RTS actually contracted 20 percent in 2000, despite record economic growth of 8.3 percent compared with roughly 5 percent in 2001.

The average daily trading volume on the RTS in 2001 was $17.73 million compared with $23.26 million in 2000.

The market's most liquid stock was Unified Energy Systems, which accounted for nearly a third of all transactions with $1.4 billion of shares traded.

Top oil producer LUKoil was the second most-actively traded stock, with some $725 million worth of shares changing hands, followed by rival Yukos with $579 million, Surgutneftegaz (ordinary), Norilsk Nickel, Tatneft, Mosenergo, Surgutneftegaz (preferred) Rostelecom and Sibneft.

Of these companies, only Yukos was not in the top 10 for 2000.

Troika Dialog led the small pack of five brokerages that dominated trade. The investment house brokered $1.3 billion worth of deals last year, down from last year's $1.8 billion, but still taking top honors for the second year in a row.

Renaissance Capital and United Financial Group moved up to No. 2 and No. 3, handling $863 million and $667 million, respectively. They replaced NIKoil ($649 million) and Aton ($499 million), which moved down to fourth and sixth place. Brunswick UBS Warburg was the newcomer to the top five, moving $637 million through its books.

Russian shares ended off Thursday, led by profit taking among local players, but traders said there were Western buyers in the market and saw the possibility of more gains, Reuters reported.

The benchmark RTS index lost 1.40 percent to end at 286.59, while the broader Reuters Russian Composite fell 0.69 percent to 1,968.99.

"The locals are selling actively, though we do not see much indication that they wish to go short," said Eric Kraus, chief strategist at NIKoil.

"Foreign buying is sustained though more sporadic, [and] volume is much thinner than seen recently."

Traders said the downturn was natural following big gains that have pushed the market to levels not seen since May 1998.

"The market must consolidate," said Renaissance Capital trader Dmitry Kulyashenets. "Yesterday there was still sufficient demand for LUKoil, Surgut and Yukos. Today I don't see it."

LUKoil closed off 0.07 percent at $13.99, Surgutneftegaz was down 0.43 percent at $0.35 and Yukos eased 1.14 percent to $5.64. UES lost 2.25 percent to $0.1735, while Mosenergo fell 4.86 percent to $0.045.

Kulyashenets also saw worries over world oil prices.

"[Russia's key crude brand] Urals is just a bit over $19 per barrel. Another dollar [lower] and people will begin to ask questions about meeting budget targets."


RTS Index Growth, by Year

Year Change, %
1995 -17.08*
1996 +129.54
1997 +85.99
1998 -85.68
1999 +193.57
2000 -19.95
2001 +98.48
*RTS opened at 100 on Sept. 1, and finished the year at 82.92
Source: RTS

Most Traded Stocks in 2001

Company Volume, $ million
UES 1.431
LUKoil 725
Yukos 575
Surgutneftegaz (ord.) 393
Norilsk Nickel 226
Tatneft 215
Mosenergo 160
Surgutnefnegaz (pref.) 114
Rostelecom 108
Sibneft 93
Source: RTS

Top Brokerages in 2001

Company Volume, $ million
Troika Dialog 1.299
Renaissance --aptial 863
UFG 667
NIKoil 649
Bruns. UBS Warb. 637
Aton 499
Alfa Bank 371
Prospect 209
Metropol 189
Metallinvestbank 168
Source: RTS