Page last updated at 10:12 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 11:12 UK

Russia approves $86bn bank rescue

Micex in Moscow
Share trading has been suspended since Wednesday

Russia's lower house of parliament, the Duma, has approved a raft of measures worth $86bn (51bn) to assist banks hit by the credit freeze.

The government will make $50bn available to banks and firms that need to refinance foreign debt. The rest will be available as loans to banks.

The package is designed to restore confidence in Russian banks and revive shares, which have seen steep falls.

Trade on Russian stock exchanges has been suspended since Wednesday.

Trading in the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange (Micex) index and the Russian Trading System (RTS) exchange was stopped after falls of more than 10% in the first hour of trade on Wednesday.

The Micex was scheduled to reopen on Friday.

But fears that Russian shares would be dumped after a climate of fear saw a rout across European and Asian stock markets, prompted the order from the regulator, analysts said.

"The RTS and MICEX will not be able to escape contagion from the rest of the world," Uralsib strategist Chris Weafer said.

Liquidity problems

The falls in Russia and elsewhere have been blamed on panic selling by global investors fearful of a deep worldwide recession.

Russian shares were also hit in August amid concerns about the conflict between Russia and Georgia.

The steep decline in oil prices has also taken its toll with energy firms accounting for about two thirds of the Russian stock indexes.

Analysts say the falls have been exaggerated as a number of Russian oligarchs have faced margin calls on loans that they took to expand their business interests.

The forced sale of shares they had used as collateral for the loans has played a part in depressing stocks.

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