Financial markets have been sending an interesting message about President Trump and Russia. After Trump’s election, investors seemed to be betting that sanctions against Moscow would soon be eased. But this confidence collapsed in late January, and Russian stocks plummeted.
The numbers tell the story: From Nov. 7, the day before the election, to Jan. 27, the MICEX index of leading Russian stocks rose 26 percent. The index for Russian financial stocks increased 19 percent over that same period. But this upward momentum suddenly reversed: As of Tuesday, the MICEX index had fallen 10.4 percent from its January peak, and the financial measure had dropped 6.5 percent.
What happened on Jan. 27? After weeks of negative stories about possible links between members of Trump’s campaign and Russia, the new president told a news conference it was “very early to be talking about” removing sanctions. Regarding a call scheduled the next day with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said blandly that he would “see what happens.” And according to both sides, the call produced only vague pledges to cooperate against terrorism.