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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Russian stock futures fell after an adviser to President Dmitry Medvedev said he should abandon plans to become premier after leaving his current role, casting doubt on the outlook for the country’s political landscape.
Futures expiring in March on Moscow’s dollar-denominated RTS index retreated 0.2 percent to 167,010 in U.S. trading hours yesterday. The RTS Volatility Index, which measures expected swings in the contracts, fell for the third day, dropping 0.8 percent to 30.65 points.
“Speculation about Medvedev not being the prime minister is increasing uncertainty,” Ivan Tchakarov, the chief economist for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States at Renaissance Capital, said by phone from Moscow. “People had expected that the swap between Putin and Medvedev was a done deal.”
Medvedev in September agreed to give up the chance for a second term to allow Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to reclaim the Kremlin. Putin offered Medvedev the premier’s job in return, a move that turned the president into a diminished political figure, said Igor Yurgens, who heads a research group created by Medvedev and serves as an adviser to him, in an interview in Moscow on Feb. 17.
Medvedev wouldn’t be “very successful in the job” because Putin’s allies in the Cabinet would “tear him apart,” Yurgens said, abandoning his support for the president for the first time publicly. Medvedev should make way for the man he fired last year as finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, who would do a better job, Yurgens said.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, said she had nothing to say about Yurgens’ switch in support to Kudrin. “This is Yurgens’s personal opinion,” Timakova said.
United Co. Rusal, the world’s largest aluminum producer, dropped 3.3 percent to HK$6.50 in Hong Kong trading as of 11:14 a.m. local time. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 0.2 percent amid haggling on a Greek aid package. The stock gauge pared a 0.7 percent advance after a European Union official said Euro- area finance ministers have reached agreement on a second bailout for the country.
Urals crude, Russia’s chief export oil blend, rose 0.5 percent to $120.49 yesterday as Iran stopped sales of crude to French and British buyers to pre-empt a European Union ban on imports of its oil and as OPEC’s second-biggest producer negotiates contracts to supply China.
Crude for March delivery rose 1.7 percent in electronic trading today on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures gained as much as $2.20 to $105.44 a barrel, the highest intraday price since May 5. Brent crude for April settlement on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange climbed 47 cents to $120.05 a barrel. U.S. stock markets were closed yesterday for Presidents’ Day.
Russia’s ruble-denominated, 30-stock advanced 0.7 percent to 1,579.19 as European governments continued discussions about a second rescue of Greece, calculating that the 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) cost of a fresh bailout is a price worth paying to prevent a default that could shatter the euro area. The RTS gained 1.1 percent to 1,674.27.
--With assistance from Darren Boey in Hong Kong. Editors: Brendan Walsh, Richard Richtmyer
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