Russia’s Stock Market Will Reopen on Thursday. Don’t Expect a Wave of Selling.

The Russian stock market has been closed since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Russian stock exchanges, which have been closed since the end of February following the invasion of Ukraine, are set to partially reopen on Thursday. But with foreigners blocked from selling, don’t expect a huge drop at the open.

Russia’s RTS stock index hasn’t been updated since Feb. 25, when it closed at 936.94, down 41% from the start of the year. That is a big drop, but probably not big enough. The

VanEck Russia

exchange-traded fund (ticker: RSX) kept trading for a while, however, even though the stocks in it weren’t trading, and was down 79% when it was halted on Mar. 4.

Part of the difference between the ETF and the Russian index was due to the ruble’s 33% year-to-date decline as of early March. The ruble has bounced back a bit since then—it is now down 26% for the year—so the ETF should get a boost from the stronger currency when it resumes trading.

The question, of course, is how much pent-up selling–or buying–there is when the market finally reopens. Russia won’t allow brokerages to fill foreign sell orders, according to the Wall Street Journal, so there may not be as much selling as would be expected. Russia is also said to be discussing a plan to split its markets in two, one for local investors, the other for foreigners.

With potentially two markets in play, and one giant group of participants locked out, don’t expect to learn much about the true balance between supply and for Russian stocks, much less where prices would go if trading returned to normal.

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