The US House passed a measure to allow $1 billion in loan guarantees sought by the White House to help restore financial stability in Ukraine, Bloomberg reported. The lawmakers voted 385-23 under an expedited process to let the government guarantee private-sector loans to Kiev. The bill would allow previously appropriated funds to be used to cover the cost of the guarantees. The vote is a first step in Congress to assist Ukraine amid the political crisis in the country.
Funds investing in Russian assets announced an influx of funds for the first time in 11 weeks, according to Uralsib Capital’s report. From February 27 to March 5, the flow of funds amounted to $59 million. The week before this period saw the outflow of funds at $111 million, according to Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) data. The influx, however, was secured only by ETF, while traditional funds lost $125 million.
A proposal that has been submitted to the Russian government stipulates that young mothers who launch their own businesses could be offered a grant up to 400,000 rubles (about US$11,000), Interfax reported. The program will be launched this year, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said. The government is also developing a plan that would allow young mothers to get a second university education free of charge.
Exxon Mobil Corp CEO Rex Tillerson has said that tensions between Ukraine and Russia have so far not disrupted its oil and gas activity in Russia. “We don’t see any new challenges out of the current situations,” Reuters quoted Tillerson as saying on Wednesday. That would change if there is government action such as sanctions, he told investors at a meeting in New York.
The European Central Bank on Thursday left interest rates unchanged and the deposit rate it pays banks for holding their money overnight at zero, Reuters reported. The decision to leave the main interest rate at 0.25 percent was generally expected by markets. With inflation at 0.8 percent, running in the ECB's "danger zone" below 1 percent, the bank has discussed ending operations to drain funds from the financial system, a back door way of increasing liquidity.
VTB Capital, a division of Russia’s second-largest bank VTB, is postponing its third annual investor forum scheduled for April 8-9, 2014. The change is due to the conflicting commitments of keynote speakers, and according to the group's spokesperson, "not political". The decision is on the heels of US-Russia tension over crisis in Crimea, and a threat from Washington to target Russian state-run finance instructions like VTB. VTB Capital is a leading Moscow-based investment group, and manages close to $190 billion in assets, and has an office in New York. Last year the event drew in 220 investors and 400 delegates from 28 different companies.
Russian RTS Index on Thursday fell 1.5 percent to 1165.6 by 14:10 local time (10:10 GMT), and the MICEX Index fell 0.9 percent to 1338.9. Ten minutes later, MICEX fell 2.1 percent, and RTS 2.5 percent. Indexes went up in the morning, before the news came that Crimea’s parliament in Ukraine had decided to hold a referendum on March 16, on the question of whether the autonomous republic stays part of Ukraine or joins Russia.