Russian stocks slip as traders brace for another round of US sanctions – MarketWatch

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Russia’s stocks lost ground Monday as the Trump administration looked set to impose more sanctions on that country.

The RTS Index — a gauge tracking Moscow-listed stocks — was recently down 0.4% to 1,099.89.

The VanEck Vectors Russia ETF RSX, -1.21% dipped 0.1% in premarket action after showing a drop of more than 1% earlier. It’s the most popular U.S.-listed ETF tracking Russian stocks, having attracted $1.75 billion in investor money.

The upcoming sanctions will target companies tied to the Syrian regime and its chemical weapons, said Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on the TV show “Fox News Sunday.”

They are coming after the U.S. joined with allies France and Britain over the weekend to launch missiles that destroyed much of Syria’s chemical-weapons capabilities. Expectations for the West to take military action had been building since a suspected chemical-weapons attack killed civilians in Syria more than a week ago.

The looming new sanctions are viewed as an American effort to punish Russia for backing the Syrian regime. At the same time, analysts are emphasizing that the past weekend’s attack was targeted at chemical-weapons facilities and direct confrontation with Russia was avoided — and they say that’s helping global equity markets SPX, -0.29% avoid a big selloff early Monday.

The fresh sanctions are expected to be in addition to measures announced April 6 that were aimed at Russian entities and individuals. U.S. officials said that crackdown was in response to Moscow’s attempt to subvert Western democracies, as well as its malicious cyber activities.

The Russian ruble RUBUSD, +0.288403% was higher against the dollar on Monday, with a buck recently buying 61.88 rubles, down from 62.35 late Friday in New York. But the dollar USDRUB, -0.2876% had traded above 63 rubles early Monday, and it remains up against the Russian currency so far this month, higher by about 8%.

Among individual stocks, Russian aluminum giant United Co. Rusal PLC 0486, -30.39% closed 30% lower on Monday in Hong Kong. Rusal’s shares now have plunged 70% in April, weighed down by the news of U.S. sanctions.