7 Jul 2010 14:56

Kudrin disputes claim his downbeat oil price forecast sparked stock sell-off

MOSCOW. July 7 (Interfax) - Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin has denied the charge that his downbeat oil price forecast on June 29 sparked a sell-off on Russian stock markets.

Kudrin, who presented his government report to the State Duma on Wednesday, was asked by a Duma deputy if he accepted responsibility for the steep decline in the market that followed his forecast that oil prices would fall to $60 in the short term.

Kudrin forecast that the price of oil would decline to $60 per barrel and perhaps lower in the coming three years at a conference on June 29. The MICEX index ended the day down 2.9% and the RTS index shed 3.4%. Most of the blue chips posted declines in the range 1.6%-5.4%.

"Look at the analysis from the leading investment banks and you will see they ascribe the decline that day to disappointing economic data in the U.S. and not to my statement, which they say had no effect," Kudrin said. "You should keep your personal opinions to yourself," he said, although acknowledged later that although the opinion was unfounded, it had the right to be aired.

As for the forecast itself, Kudrin said it was in line with forecasts from the leading energy agencies and that it was not news to market investors. "If I give a forecast that I allow the possibility that in the next three years oil will fall to $60, I am not saying anything new for the market," Kudrin said. "I believe that a pessimistic forecast is probable with a decline to $60 persisting for up to six months, although volatility will remain high," he said.