Black marketeers and investors flee from Russia

Geopolitics, corporate conflicts and a drop in oil prices have led to an outflow of capital from Russia.
For the fourth month in a row, foreign investors are cutting investments in Russian assets. During this time, they withdrew more than $ 1.6 billion from Russian stocks - the maximum outflow for the last three and a half years. The investors' flight is connected with unrealized expectations regarding the rapprochement between the US and Russia, the aggravation of the corporate conflict between Rosneft and AFK Sistema, as well as the drop in oil prices.

The Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) data show that foreign investors continue to reduce investments in funds targeting the Russian stock market. According to Kommersant estimates, based on Renaissance Capital data, the volume of funds withdrawn from such funds for the week ended June 28 exceeded $ 83 million. Almost continuous outflow of foreign investment from the Russian market continues from the end of February. In general, for four months it exceeded $ 1.6 billion.

The outflow of investments from Russian funds occurs against the background of their inflow into the assets of other developing countries. According to the EPFR, last week the funds of emerging markets attracted almost $ 1.9 billion, and for four months - almost $ 28 billion. The Russian stock market turned out to be among the outsiders. More funds were withdrawn only from China ($ 4 billion), but the size of this market is much larger than Russian. Leaders in attracting funds among the BRIC countries were India and Brazil, in the funds of which for four months were invested respectively $ 2.6 billion and $ 1 billion.

The largest amount of funds Russian funds lost only three and a half years ago. Then investors were worried about the actions of the US Federal Reserve to curtail monetary incentives, as well as low growth rates of the economies of developing countries, including the Russian one. Since August 2013, for seven months of almost continuous flight of investors, Russian funds have lost $ 2.47 billion, and all funds focused on emerging markets have lost more than $ 44 billion.

The current negative perception of investors in the Russian market is contributed primarily by internal risks, which led to a deterioration of the investment climate in the country. And in the first place - unjustified expectations about the rapprochement between Washington and Moscow after the election of the new US president. In June, the US Senate prepared a bill to expand anti-Russian sanctions. Last Wednesday, the EU Council also extended sectoral sanctions against the Russian Federation. On Friday, Moscow took retaliatory actions, extending the restrictions. "Illusions about the normalization of relations between Russia and the West have finally evaporated. Quotations of Russian shares fell to almost the levels from which the rally of the second half of 2016 began, "said Valery Weisberg, director of the analytical department of the Region.

Reduces the attractiveness of ruble assets and aggravation of the corporate conflict between Rosneft and AFK Sistema. "The situation around Sistema, of course, does not improve the investment climate in the Russian market, but so far the impact of this story on the market is limited, in fact, by the dynamics of the stock quotes of the holding itself and partly by MTS," said Vladimir Raiffeisen Capital Vedeneev.

The low efficiency of the OPEC + agreement also contributes to the pessimistic sentiments of foreign investors, as global oil reserves decrease much more slowly than expected.

Prices for Brent crude last week dropped to $ 45 per barrel - the lowest level since November 14 last year. Even with the subsequent recovery (an increase of 6%) following the Friday trading results, the quotes stopped near the $ 47.4 per barrel level, which is 11% lower than before the May decision of OPEC to prolong the agreement on limiting oil production (see "b" from 26 May). "Oil prices have declined markedly amid disappointment with the increase in production in the US and the lack of progress in reducing oil reserves in OECD countries - this does not contribute to the flow of investment in Russian stocks," said Vladimir Vedeneev.

In such conditions, market participants do not rule out further sale of ruble assets, although in smaller volumes. "In July, the House of Representatives of the US Congress can begin to discuss the sanction bill. Therefore, the restoration of interest in Russian securities by non-residents can not wait, "- says Valery Weisberg. On the other hand, in his opinion, the large-scale outflow of funds observed in recent months left persistent investors in the market, "only specific decisions on strengthening sanctions can provoke the escape." According to the analyst of Alfa Capital Andrew Schenk, in the medium term, interest in ruble assets may grow because of their undervaluation. According to a survey of analysts conducted by Reuters, at the end of 2017, the RTS index may return to the level of 1150 points, which is 15% higher than the closing value of last Friday.