Russian traders trade long day

When Russia widened the time difference between Moscow and London three years ago, stock trader German Nikonenko found himself working 12-hour days. With the country about to scrap the idea, he might get his life back.

“This change is for the better because otherwise we had to stay at the office really late,” Nikonenko, the chief equity trader at UralSib Capital in Moscow, said by phone on July 7. “The smaller the time difference with London the better, because you can plan your personal time and sports exercise. You wouldn’t go jogging at 11 p.m., would you?”

The wider time difference has made it more difficult for brokers in Moscow to serve clients in Europe and for traders in London to be active in Russia’s early market hours, hurting volume and revenue. The spread grew to four hours from three hours in 2011 after then-President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the switch to permanent summer time, saying seasonal clock changes disrupted the human biorhythm and confused milk cows.

Besides giving folks like Nikonenko more downtime, the bill Russian lawmakers passed July 9 that turns the clocks back by one hour raises the prospect of boosting volume in Russia’s 21.3 trillion-ruble ($620 billion) benchmark Micex index.

“Liquidity should increase as the trading day in Moscow and London will overlap more,” Andrey Braginskiy, a spokesman at the Moscow Exchange, wrote in an e-mail on July 8.

The Micex was little changed at 1,483.72 at 5:36 p.m. in Moscow today. The Bloomberg Russia-US Equity index slid 0.1 percent to 91.45 in New York. The Market Vectors Russia ETF, the biggest U.S. exchange-traded fund that holds Russian shares, added 0.1 percent to $26.61.

Trading volume

Turnover in equities, mutual-fund shares and Russian depositary receipts on the Moscow Exchange fell 21 percent between October last year and February to 692 billion rubles, before the Ukraine crisis temporarily revived trading, according to data from the bourse.

The average 30-day value of trades in London of the 10 biggest Russian companies with at least five years of history in both markets is about 33 percent greater than in Moscow, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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