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    STOCK MARKET REACTS TO PUTIN'S ELECTION VICTORY BY RISE IN QUOTATIONS

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    MOSCOW, March 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) -- On the first day after the presidential election, trading on the Russian stock market opened with a rise in quotations.

    By 10.30 (Moscow time), the MICEX index was 590 points, 0.54% up from Friday closing bids. Share prices of Norilsk Nickel rose 0.29%, Lukoil - 0.15%, RAO UES - 0.66%, and YUKOS - 1.14%.

    Experts point out that Vladimir Putin's victory in the elections was an expected event on the market and, against a correction drop registered last week, served as a pretext for a rise in quotations on Monday.

    "There is a great probability of a growth on the market on Monday, but it will not be high, perhaps 1-2% on the main papers," said Sergei Reznik, an analyst with the MDM-bank.

    In the opinion of Olma analysts, "the market grew moderately before the presidential elections and the risks were minimal, therefore the after-election correction characteristic of previous presidential elections in Russia is scarcely probable." Forecasts on the Russian market's prospects are rather optimistic, since the election results confirmed the market participants' faith in the continuation of reforms in Russia.

    "Besides, the elections were held democratically and without breaches of law. Foreign monitors will hardly doubt their results," Sergei Reznik added, pointing to two positive factors: a high voter turnout and the fact that there were no terrorist attacks.

    In the Olma analysts' opinion, over a medium term the market will be supported by a high level of liquidity and high world prices of mineral resources and metals, as well as expectations that Russia's international ratings will be raised to the investment grade status.

    "We can say with certainty that Russia will pursue a sensible economic policy over the next several years," said Alexander Razuvayev, an analyst with the Megatransoil company. "The favourable market situation for Russian exports creates a positive background for the continuation of economic reforms," he added.

    In his opinion, this very year Russia will be awarded investment grade status by the classification of all major world rating agencies.

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