YUKOS PLIGHT KEEPS RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET WARY

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MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - Bad news from Yukos kept the Russian stock market at yesterday's level.

Morning was bulls' paradise with hopeful financial developments all around. A dark cloud came with a Yukos press release as the oil giant announced all its industrial branches' accounts under arrest. Emergency stock sales swept the market. They finished quite soon-but not soon enough to recover optimism. A majority of blue chips stayed where they were yesterday.

The Russian Trading System, RTS, index had come 0.57 per cent up by closing time at 587.01. The day's deals made $20.9 million.

Surgutneftegaz rose the highest of all, by 2.02 per cent, and Yukos came the day's lowest with 2.22 per cent down against closing time yesterday.

Dealers were the busiest with LUKoil, $7.9 million. The Unified Russian Power Grid came next with $4.8 million. The two companies' stock came 0.5145% and 0.38% down, respectively, against closing time yesterday.

MICEX, or Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange, had its index 0.04% up by 6.45 p.m., Moscow time, to 550.67. Yukos came 1.84% down, Unified Russian Power Grid ordinary stock 0.64%, and LUKoil 0.42% by 7.00 p.m., Moscow time.

The other blue chips came 1 per cent or even less up.

Contradictory news were invading the market all day long. On the one hand, petroleum prices are going ever higher up, overseas investors are eager for Russian assets-suffice it to mention dynamic bids for the Russian ADR-and bidders can afford sizeable investment.

On the other hand, the Yukos plight and recent Gazprom problems dampen contrasting lucrative expectations for the LUKoil government block auctioned off.

There are radiant expectations for tomorrow's Board of Directors session of the Unified Russian Power Grid to discuss pilot bond prospects.

Speculation remains strong in the Russian stock market, experts conclude from the situation. Some of them think an RTS index approaching 600 is too good to be true. Analysts advise to buy LUKoil and Gazprom stock as the most reliable, and track market hopes down to tomorrow's Power Grid session and the upcoming LUKoil auction.

Experts remain jittery about Yukos. All branches' accounts arrest has paralyzed the company, and it has to suspend whatever industrial and financial activities. A respective press release sent petroleum prices skyrocketing at the New York Exchange-by $1.13 a barrel to $45.13, midday, our correspondent reports from New York City.

Russia has come to lead the world for petroleum extraction, so the latest goings-on round Yukos are hitting the entire world market again to push oil prices up to a fifty dollar mark, Carl Larry, Barclays Capital analyst, remarked to Novosti.

Russian oil extraction increased by 9.9 per cent to a daily average 9.1 million barrels within the year's first eight months, say official statistics of the Ministry of Industry and Energy.

Saudi Arabia is currently extracting a daily average 8.7 million barrels.

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