The MOEX Russia Index traded just 33 stocks out of the index’s normal 50. The market was opened for only four hours, closing at 2 p.m. local time. Stocks such as energy giant Lukoil and Gazprom finished the session with gains.
Short-selling was banned, and Russian brokerages weren’t allowed to let foreign clients sell securities. With those measures put in place, a huge drop at the open wasn’t expected.
The market last traded on Feb. 25, following harsh sanctions on Moscow following its invasion of Ukraine. The central bank raised its key interest rate to the highest level in two decades, and rubles — the local currency — plunged to a record low. President Vladimir Putin looked to prop up the ruble Wednesday by saying Russia only would accept rubles in gas deals with “unfriendly” nations.
On Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine, the MOEX fell as much as 45%.
The White House called the re-opening of Russia’s stock market a “charade: a Potemkin market opening.”
“Russia has made clear they are going to pour government resources into artificially propping up the shares of companies that are trading. This is not a real market and not a sustainable model — which only underscores Russia’s isolation from the global financial system,” said Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics Daleep Singh in a statement.