Russian stock market falls despite tender suspension

Russian stock indexes sank Tuesday despite the federal market regulator ordering a two-hour trading halt in anticipation of massive fallout from the rejection of a bank bailout in the U.S. Congress.

The ruble-denominated MICEX exchange - which fell 1 percent in 15 minutes of trading before the suspension - fell sharply after reopening at 12:30 p.m. (8:30 GMT). By 1:10 p.m. (0910 GMT), it had dropped 6.9 percent from the previous day's close.

The dollar-denominated RTS - which first opened for trading only at 12:30 p.m. - sank by 2.9 percent to 1,159.4 points.

State-owned oil major Rosneft plunged 8.2 percent and oil firm Lukoil lost 7.2 percent as oil prices dropped overnight to fall back below US$100 a barrel. Mining company Norilsk Nickel shed 8.6 percent while state-controlled VTB bank declined by 5.5 percent.

The U.S. House of Representatives narrowly voted against a massive US$700 billion bailout plan for financial institutions Monday in the United States, triggering a stock selloff in the United States and Asia. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 777 points on Monday, its biggest-ever one-day fall.

Russia's stock market, which earlier this year was one of the world's most robust and lucrative, has been in a steep decline for weeks, reflecting not only the turmoil in international markets but fears sparked by high-profile corporate conflicts and Russia's war with Georgia in August.

A sharp fall on domestic exchanges earlier this month - resulting in a two-day shut down of trading - led to a major loss of confidence among lenders. Since then, the Russian government has poured in billions of dollars into the banking system in an effort to ease liquidity concerns.

"Globally, investors are running from risk," Moscow-based UralSib bank said in a note to investors. "With the price of crude crashing back ... plus worries about the outlook for stability within the country's financial system, Russia is firmly in that category."

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