Monday sees Russian markets make moderate gains

A light day's trade on Monday saw Russian stocks improve slightly, with traders taking a breather after last week's frenetic activity. At the end of the day the RTS and Micex closed up 1.05% and 0.62% respectively.

This follows a tumultuous day of trading on Friday, which saw both exchanges halted twice as they powered to record one-day gains, and was preceded by two halts in the previous week as serious liquidity concerns prompted fears for the Russian financial system.

Monday saw stocks post an initial gain, and then remain relatively flat for the remainder of the day with falls in energy majors Gazprom (down 3.1% on the Micex) and Lukoil (down 4.1%) being offset by gains for VTB (up 16%), Avtovaz (up 10%) and Norilsk Nickel (up 5%). 

Trade volumes were relatively light with investors awaiting more detail on the bailout of the U.S. financial system being proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The mild gains in Moscow followed similar gains in Asia overnight and with the Dax and FTSE remaining about the starting mark, as investors await further news from the U.S.

Meanwhile the Russian government has announced further moves to increase liquidity in the financial system, after injecting as much as an estimated $US 130 billion last week.  On Monday morning it extended the number of banks it will provide emergency funding to from three to 28.

The Finance Ministry has also announced it will provide almost $US 24 billion in three-month credit at a minimum rate of 8.75%.