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Foreign Investors Withdrawing From Russia

 A trader monitors the markets in Moscow (file photo)
A trader monitors the markets in Moscow (file photo)
MOSCOW -- For the first time in several months, more foreign investors are withdrawing from Russia than are investing in it, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

According to calculations by the Boston-based financial firm EPRFR Global, investment funds specializing in stocks in Russian companies withdrew a total of more than $200 million during the week of May 6-12.

Aleksandr Potavin, an analyst with the Moscow-based firm IT Invest, told RFE/RL that "it's a general rule that an outflow of capital is a sign that investors are withdrawing funds from risky markets -- first and foremost the stock market and the commodities market." He added that in the past 10 days "financial market indices [have dropped]" and there has been a fall in commodities prices.

Potavin said the outflow of investment has taken place in many developing markets, including the Russian stock market.

Since the beginning of the year, the flow of capital into international funds specializing in the Russian stock market has reached around $1.9 billion.

Potavin says that if the downward trend on stock and commodity markets continues, the ruble will probably fall against the dollar and other currencies.

"If the lowering is protracted -- longer than a month, for example -- it could push large investors to transfer their ruble assets to foreign currency assets," he said. "In this the case, [the] dollar exchange rate could rise to 33 rubles and higher."

The dollar is currently worth about 30.3 rubles.

The global economic crisis and the consequent fall in commodity prices have exposed the extent to which Russia's economy is dependent on the export of raw materials, primarily oil and gas.

In 2009, the Russian government was forced to revise its budget revenue forecast due to a larger-than-expected fall in world oil prices.