8 Aug 2018 16:56

Sberbank shares down to lowest since April on sanctions fears while Gazprom stocks rise

MOSCOW. Aug 8 (Interfax) - Sberbank led the overall decline on the Russian stock market on Wednesday due to fears of new strict U.S. sanctions against Russia; the bank's shares fell back to their lowest level since April while breaching this will take prices down to the level of October 2017.

At 14:31 Moscow time Sberbank ordinary shares fell to 194.05 rubles (-3.8%, hitting as low as 192.5 rubles earlier in the day) and preferred shares to 170.91 rubles (3.3%).

The Interfax Center for Economic Analysis said that Sberbank shares are relatively sensitive to sanctions fears and are being sold off as they are the most liquid instruments on the Russian market and take a key position in the portfolios of foreign investors.

There were also losses for AFK Sistema (-4.2%, to 8,585 rubles - the lowest since the end of June) on report of possible U.S. sanctions against AFK chief Vladimir Yevtushenkov.

The MOEX Russia index was down 1.2% to 2285 points and the RTS fell 2.8% to 1115 points.

On Wednesday, the Kommersant newspaper published the details of a bill submitted to Congress expanding U.S. sanctions against Russia, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez. In particular, it envisages a prohibition on operations in the U.S. and asset freezes with respect to Russian state banks including Sberbank , VTB and VEB, which could potentially deal a significant blow to these lender's international operations.

Furthermore, in a tweet, American congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen published a U.S. State Department response to her query indicating that the agency is considering the possibility of imposing sanctions against Vladimir Yevtushenkov, the principal shareholder and chairman of AFK Sistema.

At the same time, amid an overall decline for the market, Gazprom shares have provided safe harbor (+0.6%, to 143.6 rubles), which have not demonstrated robust movement since the start of the year.

Overall trading volume on the Moscow Exchange was above 32.6 billion rubles of which 16.278 billion rubles Sberbank ordinary shares and 2.12 billion rubles in Gazprom shares.