FILE PHOTO: The letters MOEX are pictured at the Moscow Exchange, with the Kremlin and the Four Seasons Hotel seen in the background, in Moscow, Russia, May 26, 2017. REUTERS/Segrei Karpukhin

March 25, 2022

(Reuters) – Russian stocks edged lower on Friday in a volatile second session of trading after a nearly month-long suspension, while the rouble held on to recent gains, holding near 97 to the dollar.

The benchmark MOEX stock index was down 1.4% at 2,542.6 points at 0729 GMT. They hit a peak of 2,761.17 points on Thursday. The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 2.4% to 832.1 points.

Prior to Thursday, stocks had not traded on Moscow’s bourse since Feb. 25, the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops into neighbouring Ukraine, prompting Western sanctions aimed at isolating Russia economically and then Russian countermeasures.

On Friday, more securities, including corporate bonds and Eurobonds can be traded. On Thursday, 33 blue chips traded on the Moscow Exchange, with restrictions on trade with foreigners and a ban on short selling.

Commodities stocks had led Thursday’s rebound with double-digit growth, but moves were smaller on Friday.

Oil major Rosneft was up 0.5%, while Lukoil was 1.9% lower.

Airline Aeroflot extended its slide lower, dropping around 9.3%.

The rouble was up 0.3% against the dollar at 96.75.

The rouble on Wednesday hit its strongest level in three weeks at 94.9875 after Putin said Russia would start selling its gas to “unfriendly” countries in roubles.

Against the euro, the rouble was up 0.4% at 106.40, far from both an all-time low of 132.4 it hit earlier in March and from levels of around 90 seen before Feb. 24.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely)

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