Monday, December 19, 2016


Russian stocks surging thanks to Trump and oil

Russian stocks are getting a Trump bump,too.

The benchmark Micex index is up more than 14% since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton last month. That's even better than in the United States, where the S&P 500 has gained 6% and the Dow 8.5% in a record-breaking rally since Election Day.

More money poured into Russian stock mutual funds last week than at any point in almost six years, according to fund tracking firm EPFR Global. Two Russian-themed ETFs, the SPDR S&P Russia (RBL) and VanEck Vectors Russia (RSX) funds, have soared as well.

Trump's openness to friendlier relations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin appears to be one reason Russian stocks have done so well. But the surge in oil prices since OPEC agreed to a production cut a few weeks ago is clearly helping, too.

Shares of Russian oil giant Gazprom(GZPFY) are up 12% in the past month, while shares of Lukoil (LUKOY) have gained 15%. Rosneft's (OJSCY) stock is up 20%.

The Russian economy depends heavily on its oil and energy industry. But other Russian stocks have rallied in the past few weeks, too, such as financial services giant Sberbank (SBRCY) and search engine Yandex (YNDX).

So investors seem to be bullish on a rebound for the entire Russian economy -- which is currently expected to grow slightly next year.

The Russian economy shrank in 2015 and has declined so far this year because of low oil prices and international sanctions imposed after Russia annexed the Crimea region from Ukraine in 2014.

How long could the Russia rally last?

Investors are clearly excited about Russia because of Trump.

However, some members of Congress, including Republican Senator John McCain, are calling for an investigationafter intelligence agencies concluded Russian hackers had interfered with the U.S. election, possibly to help Trump.

Dissension in the Republican Party over Russia could put an end to hopes of friendlier ties between the U.S. and Russia.

The ties that Trump's pick for secretary of state, outgoing ExxonMobil (XOM)CEO Rex Tillerson, has to Russia because of Exxon's deals with Putin and Russia to drill for oil in the Arctic could be a problem as well.

So investors might want to say "nyet" to Russian stocks considering how sharply they've climbed in such a short time.

The ferocious Russian market rally could come crashing to a halt if Trump and Tillerson's relationships with Russia become a problem for Congress. And there's no guarantee that oil prices are going to keep climbing, either.

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