As US piles on sanctions, foreign investors pour more money into Russia

Russian companies’ stocks attracted the most foreign investment in 5 years, adding nearly $576 million in January, the Central Bank of Russia reported. Investors also actively poured money into Russian bonds despite US sanctions.

The ruble-based Moscow stock exchange (MOEX) index has reached a new all-time high, surging 6.4 percent since the beginning of the year, the regulator said in its report on liquidity of the banking sector and the financial markets issued on Tuesday.

The index hit several records in January, finishing the month at 2536.28 points, and later reached a new all-time high of 2551.97 points on February 6.

At the same time the dollar-dominated MSCI Russia Index rose 13.2 percent reaching the figures of April 2018, when harsh anti-Russian sanction were introduced by the US.

The Russian state bond market (OFZ) also attracted foreign investors. Non-residents expanded their investment into Russian bonds by $837 million, the highest figure since January 2018. Half of them were purchased at auctions, while the other half at secondary market, where the inflow of foreign investment has been recorded for the first time in a year, according to the central bank.

“In January the situation in the Russian financial market significantly improved due to the growth of global demand for risky assets,” the regulator explained in the report. It added that softening of the US Federal Reserve’s rhetoric on monetary policy, as well as the progress in US-China trade talks and the rise of oil prices back to $60 per barrel positively affected investors’ sentiment.

Last week, Moody’s upgraded Russia’s credit rating from Ba1 to investment grade level of Baa3 with a stable outlook, acknowledging the “positive impact” of government policies. In October, Moody’s senior vice president predicted the return of foreign investment to the Russian market due to the financial results shown by its companies.

Last year, Russia made a top 5 list of Europe’s most attractive destinations for foreign investments, according to the data published by professional services firm EY.

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