Markets open in Moscow after long holiday

After a ten-day holiday, Russian markets have opened with solid gains including a rise in Gazprom. It's the first day of trading since the markets closed for the New Year holidays.

The Russian markets’ positive gains contrasted with the expectations of traders and observers and markets around the world, where most, including those in New York and London, have seen losses to start the year.

Many traders had feared that the gas conflict with Ukraine would hurt Russia's largest company, Gazprom. However, Ukraine has signed a deal allowing monitors to check gas levels passing through the country. Gazprom had said that if it could be shown that Ukraine was not stealing gas, supplies would be increased.

With the news of the signing, Gazprom opened on the markets on Sunday with a 4.2 per cent gain. Another energy giant, Lukoil, opened the year with a 5.7 per cent boost.

Many observers remain cautious, however.

“Usually we see a rally at the end of the year, but last year we didn't,” said Aleksey Gerasyuk, a spokesman for MICEX.

With the markets closing so low at the end of last year year, the moderate gains seen at the opening may just be a result of the stock exchange having already hit rock bottom.