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Russian shares nudged lower in a volatile week for international stock markets, as fresh profit warnings from US technology companies wiped off any early gains around the globe.
The Russian Trading System (RTS) index stayed above the key support level of 170 to end at just over 173 points. But trading volumes remained low as overseas investors focused on global financial markets.
A mixed domestic news flow served up a welcome break on corporate transparency in the form of Lukoil's long-awaited international-standard financial results (see p11). But there were ominous signs that Russia may reject a new IMF loan.
Analysts have long warned that the market would take a government rejection of the IMF programme badly, as it would indicate its reluctance to commit to strict macroeconomic targets and structural reform timelines. Worse, though, is the timing. As US-Russia tensions escalate (see pi), an IMF rebuff could signal Moscow once again turning its back on the west.
In the circumstances, President Vladimir Putin's surprise cabinet reshuffle passed by almost unnoticed. Current changes were outside most investors' concerns because they do not affect any economic posts. But observers did not rule out further shake-ups having a wider-reaching …