Russian authorities can invest up to $20 billion to buy up stock

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The Russian authorities have 500 billion rubles ($19.6 billion) ready to start buying shares of companies, including ones with state ownership, if their undervaluation lasts for an extended period, the finance minister said Thursday.

“The situation is such that the cost of securities, including those of large influential companies and companies with state participation, in our opinion has gone down to such a point that it does not correspond to the real level,” said Alexei Kudrin, who is also a deputy prime minister. He added that the Russian government hopes the investment will increase the cost of shares and will make it possible to gain revenues in the future.

Russia’s main financial regulator announced Thursday that it would allow the country’s two main stock exchanges to resume equity trading Friday. The Federal Financial Markets Service halted trading on the RTS and MICEX on Wednesday after share prices plummeted to their lowest levels in nearly three years amid worsening global financial troubles.

In a move to shore up market liquidity, the Russian government said Wednesday it would lend up to  rubles 1.12 trillion ($44 billion) to state-controlled Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank, the main market-making banks, which would subsequently offer loans to small and medium-sized banks.

On Thursday, Kudrin said the three banks would allocate an extra 60 billion rubles ($2.36 billion) to loan to stock market players with securities as collateral. Russian monetary and financial authorities say the latest developments on the domestic market have been caused by a crisis of confidence rather than by a liquidity squeeze. Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday that the country had sufficient resources to ensure financial stability, and pledged all necessary support for the market. “The market will receive the necessary support,” he said. Medvedev proposed the government allocate around $20 billion, with 50% of the sum to come from the federal budget, to support the stock market. (rian.ru)

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