The Moscow stock exchange has partially reopened after a nearly month-long suspension over the war in Ukraine. Only bonds issued by the Russian government can be traded as part of a phased re-opening of the market.
The exchange closed hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent thousands of troops into Ukraine on 24 February. Andrei Braginsky, a spokesman for the Moscow Exchange, said he hoped that trading in stocks would be able to start again soon. “Technically everything is ready, and we are hoping this will resume in the near future,” he said.
The market reopened at 13:00 (10:00 GMT) but only for OFZ bonds – the Russian acronym for Federal Loan Obligations. In pre-market trading, yields on those government bonds rose by almost 20% – the highest on record. A higher yield means the government will have to pay more to borrow and indicates the investment is more risky. The yield later settled close to 13% after trading began.
Central Bank governor Elvira Nabiullina said the bank would maintain its key interest rate at 20% and would purchase government bonds to limit volatility. Meanwhile, oil prices jumped more than $3 on Monday, with Brent crude climbing above $111 a barrel.
Prices moved higher after reports that the EU was considering whether to join the US in imposing an oil embargo on Russia. The European Commission said earlier this month it aimed to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels “well before 2030”.
The invasion of Ukraine, and sanctions imposed by western governments, are taking a toll on the Russian economy. The Russian rouble was steady against the dollar on Monday, trading at 104.83 RUB. However, it is down by about a quarter since the start of the invasion. Some supermarkets are rationing sales of basic goods such as salt and cooking oil. Some supermarkets are rationing sales of basic goods such as salt and cooking oil.
The central bank more than doubled interest rates to 20% four days after the start of Moscow’s military action in Ukraine. The continuation of the conflict and ratcheting up of sanctions have undermined confidence further. There have been concerns about Russia defaulting on its debt, but it paid $117 million in interest on two dollar-denominated bonds last week.