Russia Stocks Slide, Kuwait Shuts as Oil Roils Emerging Markets

Russian stocks plunged and Kuwait suspended trading as a slump in oil to below $55 a barrel roiled emerging markets and increased concern that Moscow will be forced to devalue the ruble, Bloomberg reported today. Russia's Micex Index fell as much as 17 percent and was 8.6 percent lower at 1:09 p.m. in Moscow after it reopened following a 30-minute trading suspension. A court in Kuwait ordered a shutdown as traders lobbied for support after a sixth day of declines. “Alarm bells are ringing,” said Tom Fallon, head of emerging-market research at La Francaise des Placements in Paris, which manages $11 billion. “Weaker oil raises a number of issues for deterioration in terms of trade and budget assumptions which are now being seriously called into question.” Oil, Russia's chief export, has fallen 63 percent since the July-high of $147. The ruble has plunged 21 percent against the dollar in the past four months, even as the central bank sold 16 percent of its currency reserves in an attempt to arrest declines. Reserves dropped $9.2 billion last week to the lowest this year at $475.4 billion, central bank said today. Read more.