MOSCOW Mar 12 Russian stock indexes fell sharply again on Wednesday on the possibility that western sanctions will be imposed on Russia over Crimea, while the rouble was steady thanks to central bank support.
At 0730 GMT the rouble-denominated MICEX index was down 1.7 percent at 1,287 points and the dollar-denominated RTS index had fallen 1.9 percent to 1,111 points.
"Depressed sentiment dominates because of politics," Rossiysky Capital analyst Anastasia Sosnova said in a note. "Investors are afraid of possible western sanctions that could impact the economic sphere."
Analysts said the Russian market was also affected by concerns that China's economy is slowing after poor export data hit Asian markets.
Russia's foreign ministry said on Tuesday Moscow plans to respect the results of a March 16 referendum that is expected to back Crimea's reunification with Russia.
Western countries have called the referendum illegal and plan to introduce visa bans and asset freezes on officials who threaten Ukraine's territorial integrity.
They have also warned of unspecified further sanctions if Russia fails to take steps to de-escalate the crisis.
"From the main events one should emphasise the declaration of the European Union that sanctions against Russian could be introduced as early as Monday," Investcafe analyst Mikhail Kuzmin said in a note.
"This again emphasises that the main role will be played by the referendum in Crimea. The introduction of sanctions will in turn accelerate the outflow of investors from the market."
Despite the continuing falls in stocks the rouble was steady, buttressed by central bank interventions as the rouble traded near the edge of the corridor that the central bank is committed to defend.
At 0730 GMT the rouble was stable against the dollar at 36.50 and against the euro at 50.58 . It was up one kopeck at 42.83 against the dollar-euro basket.
"It appears that the market is too exhausted to play against the rouble as the (central bank) has committed to stay strong at present levels," VTB Capital analysts commented in a note.
The rouble was trading beyond the edge of the floating corridor announced by the central bank, 42.80 against the basket as of March 11, where the bank is committed to unlimited interventions to support the currency.
Market players said the central bank had probably already moved the corridor by five kopecks to 35.85-42.85 on Wednesday morning. Corridor shifts are announced a day after they occur.
Shifts in the corridor have now become less frequent after the central bank raised the intervention threshold needed for a shift from $350 million to $1.5 billion on March 3.
For rouble poll data see
For Russian equities guide see
For Russian treasury bonds see
Russia in graphics: link.reuters.com/dun63s (Reporting by Jason Bush and Vladimir Abramov; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)