RUSSIAN STOCK BROKERS MARK TIME AS THINGS LOOK UNCERTAIN

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MOSCOW, May 31 (RIA Novosti) - This was a quiet day in the Russian stock market, what with end-of-month rouble shortages and a bad controversy round the Yukos petroleum mammoth. A stoppage in the US market, what with Memorial Day plus weekend, had its say, too.

The Russian Trading System index had come 0.36% down to 581.07 by 6 p.m., Moscow time. This stock market, Russia's basic, brought 149 deals to a lump US$18.508 million. The United Russian Power Grid made more than a half--$9.218 million. It was also the quickest to go down-1.71%. Paradoxically, the Yukos led the day, 3.03% up. The Norilsk Nickel came 2% up after a slump of Friday last. The LUKoil, another petroleum mammoth, was 0.91% up.

"Things are vague in the market after the Yukos goings-on sent the Russian stock plummeting," says Alexander Razuvayev, Megatrustoil head analyst.

"Russian dealers don't make headlong moves with a current money shortage," adds Alexei Logvin, Interfintrade expert.

The Russian market is taking time with a break in the USA, and the UK Bank Holiday. However, today's activity was by no means at its lowest. Speculators, who dominated the market today, were after blue chips, with the second echelon only for token deals, says Alexander Sobolenko, Bitsa Invest stock transaction board chief.

The Yukos was a success today after its affiliate Yuganskneftegas guaranteed a $2.6 billion loan, explains Mr. Logvin.

Alexander Razuvayev focused attention on the Norilsk Nickel. Bulls have turned to it in the anticipation of next Wednesday's financial report for last year, which will follow international standards, he remarked.

The Sibneft is sliding down as before-another 1.75% by midday. Alexander Sobolenko tracked the fall down to the S&P announcing its appearance on the Credit Watch with bad forecasts.

Alexei Kudrin, Russia's Finance Minister, did the market a bad turn as he buried a proposed arrangement, on which fiscal claims were to be settled at the negotiation table. There was another black news-the TNK/BP may suspend production in Samotlor, Russia's largest oilfield, to send overseas investors into shivers, says Olga Belenkaya of Olma Co.

Mr. Razuvayev expects an upcoming decision for final LUKoil privatisation to have a great impact on the market. If the Cabinet determines to offer 7.6% of its stock for one-lot sale, there will be no hazardous appearance of a huge block to upset the market, he said to Novosti.

The expert highlighted repeated reassurances from the Russian top of no fiscal claims on the company. He called dealers to use the current slump for more investment.

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