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The stocks affected by escalating violence in the central Asian state and what might happen next
Thursday 13 Jan 2022 Author: Tom Sieber

The dust may be settling for now on the recent unrest in Kazakhstan, but the ructions are still being felt in the markets.

Prices of oil and uranium, of which Kazakhstan is a major producer, moved higher amid the disruption. The country is a key centre for bitcoin mining and concerns over the violence helped contribute to volatility in the cryptocurrency, which recently hit a four-month low.

Several UK-listed firms have direct exposure to Kazakhstan and there now seem to be three main ongoing risks for investors to weigh. First that the apparent calming of tensions proves short-lived and there is a return to violence. Second that there is wider regional contagion which sees Kazakhstan’s neighbours drawn in. Finally, that the Kazakh authorities’ response to the crisis includes tighter fiscal terms for foreign miners and oil companies as it looks to address the concerns of its citizenry.

The clashes in the central Asian state were sparked at the beginning of 2022 by mounting fuel prices. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called in troops from Moscow to quell the uprising through the CSTO alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Kazakh copper producer Central Asia Metals (CAML:AIM) on 11 January said it had been unaffected by the disruptions in the country, yet its share price is still down 10.6% year-to-date.

Another Kazakh-based miner – East Star Resources (EST) – made what felt like an inauspicious stock market debut on in London. Shares in what was previously a special purpose acquisition company or SPAC were readmitted to the market on 10 January following the acquisition of Discovery Ventures Kazakhstan which owns a package of four licences with gold and copper potential.

At one point East Star was down as much as 14% since readmission but has since recovered some ground.

Much larger counterpart Polymetal (POLY), a specialist in precious metals with assets in Kazakhstan, also saw its shares come under pressure.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB) has Kazakh exposure through its interests in the offshore Karachaganak and Kashagan fields, though its shares are up 2.6% year-to-date though as any issues here have been overshadowed by stronger oil prices.

Kazakhstan-focused oil and gas plays Nostrum Oil & Gas (NOG) and Caspian Sunrise (CASP:AIM) have fallen 20% and 14.5% since the start of 2022.

Shares in uranium-focused investments Geiger Counter (GCL) and Yellow Cake (YCA:AIM) are up 6.5% and 1% respectively year-to-date.

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