Russian stocks are set to extend their rally in 2010 as market strategists bet a strong ruble and high commodities prices will sustain robust economic growth, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday.
Russia's RTS index has risen around 120 percent so far this year after crashing spectacularly during the financial crisis in 2008/09. The median result of a poll of 13 strategists showed another 22 percent rise next year to 1,700 points.
Analysts predicted an end 2009 RTS close of 1,375 points, a near 118 percent gain for the year, upgraded from a 1,280 scoreline when last polled in September.
They listed a range of economic factors that could support the rise — although the forecast would still leave the index some way short of the 2,290.5 reached at the end of 2007.
High oil prices will keep the ruble on a firm footing and analysts expect the exchange rate to be stable over coming months, although continued steep interest rate cuts could potentially cause a rout in the currency.
Others looked further than traditional Russian strongholds of oil and metals, predicting a rise in consumer spending could accompany demand for resources.
"The main theme for the Russian stock market in 2010 will be the recovery of consumer demand — that's why the cyclical sectors have the most upside potential, such as banks, retail, telecoms and property," said Vladimir Savov at Russian stock-broker Otkritie.
RTS is the dollar-denominated of the two Moscow-based indexes, while the more liquid MICEX shows trade in rubles.
The poll results come amid signs of renewed market confidence in Russia and the wider world — at least during the first quarter of next year.
Answering a separate question, 12 strategists were unanimous in their belief that the global market rally was set to continue in 2010, although some predicted rockiness during the second and third quarters.
Should any unforeseen global event batter the oil price, or the ruble unexpectedly struggle against the dollar, Russian markets could face problems, some analysts said.
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