00:36 GMT +321 March 2018
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    Russian stock market down ahead of ECB interest-rate decision

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    MOSCOW, August, 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's stock market has fallen, in line with European indexes, on predictions that the European Central Bank could raise interest rates, experts said Friday.

    As of 2 p.m. Moscow time (10 a.m. GMT), the MICEX index had dropped 0.6%, to 1,450 points. The RTS index declined 0.14%, to 1,649 points.

    "Closer to midday, blue chips showed a downward trend on news of European stock indexes going down," said Alexei Bystrov, deputy general director of the OLMA investment group.

    The ECB's prime rate now is 3%, but some analysts say it could rise by 0.25%.

    "If this happens, a slight drop on European and Russian markets is theoretically possible," said Dmitry Golubkov, an analyst with Aton-Line.

    At the same time, decline is checked by the rise of raw materials markets: oil futures have started growing again, settling above $70 per barrel, following a new spiral of tension around Iran.

    Dmitry Lukashev, an analyst with Zenit Bank, said that if sanctions were imposed on Iran - the UN deadline for Tehran to respond to incentives for it to give up a controversial nuclear program expires today - the oil price could surge to $90 per barrel.

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