Russian benchmark index slides for 2nd day

By the Associated Press | September 23, 2011 | 9:10 AM EDT

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's benchmark stock indexes were down nearly 5 percent Friday in a second day of steep falls as investors fret over slowing demand in the global economy.

Friday's losses, though dramatic, are not as steep as the plunges the day before, when the ruble-denominated MICEX index dropped 7.8 percent, its biggest single-day loss in two years, and the dollar-denominated RTS fell 8.6 percent.

European and Asian markets were also sharply down on Friday, but not as much as Russia's, which has been hit particularly hard as investors worldwide flee emerging markets and fears of a new recession in the United States or Europe hurt demand for energy and other commodities.

As of 5 p.m. (1300 GMT), the MICEX was down 4.6 percent and the RTS had lost 5 percent.

President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday he would summon a meeting to discuss the worsening situation on world markets.

"The situation is not straightforward, and we must behave very carefully," Medvedev was quoting by the RIA Novosti as saying.

Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina offered reassures that the current market slump would not replicate the collapse seen in Russia's markets in 2008.

"Financial authorities — the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank — are taking necessary measures," she was quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency. "We shall wait to see what happens on the world markets."

A similar market plunge was seen in other emerging Eastern European economies, with the Czech Republic's benchmark Prague Stock Exchange index down 5.2 percent and Poland's WSE index 2.7 percent lower.