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Russian markets reverse losses, eyes on Navalny case


MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian stocks staged a recovery on Friday, regaining their composure a day after the sentencing of protest leader Alexei Navalny raised concern among investors.

At 1400 GMT the rouble-denominated MICEX index <.MCX> was up 0.6 percent to 1,425.1 points, while the dollar-denominated RTS <.IRTS> index was also up 0.6 percent to 1,386.1 points.

This follows falls of around 1 percent on Thursday, when the sentencing of anti-corruption campaigner and government critic Navalny raised concerns about Russia's investment climate. The sentencing drew condemnation from western governments and sparked protests in Moscow and other cities.

On Friday, Navalny was released pending his appeal, in a move seen by some political analysts as a sign of Kremlin divisions over the move to convict him.

Having fallen together with other emerging markets in the morning, Russian stocks outperformed in the afternoon as the market digested the latest developments in the case.

Still, many analysts said Friday's rise in stocks may have had less to do with Navalny's temporary release than with the market shrugging off his conviction on Thursday, as investors refocused on financial fundamentals.

"Navalny's (conviction) hardly came as a surprise, so perhaps one can argue that it was already in the price," said Peter Westin, chief equity strategist at Aton.

The rouble had a mixed day, gaining against the dollar but losing ground against the euro.

It was up 0.3 percent against the dollar to 32.38 but down 0.1 percent to 42.50 against the euro. That left it 0.1 percent stronger at 36.93 against the euro-dollar basket.

(Reporting by Jason Bush and Maya Dyakina/editing by Chris Pizzey, London MPG Desk, +44; 0; 207 542-4441)