MOSCOW, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Russia's second-largest bank by assets VTB underperformed Moscow stocks on Wednesday, with analysts saying its weaker trading was driven by a U.S. senator's call for sanctions on Russian lenders.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal urged President Barack Obama on Tuesday to introduce sanctions against Russian banks, saying at a meeting on U.S. policy on Syria and Iran that they were helping to finance the Syrian government's war against rebel groups.
Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, named Russia's second-largest lender VTB, the state development bank Vnescheconombank, or VEB, and Gazprombank as those who conduct business in Syria.
At 1300 GMT, VTB shares, the only one of the three trading on the stock exchange, were down 0.1 percent, recovering from a 0.8 percent decline earlier in the day.
'Such sanctions are unlikely to be supported by President Barack Obama, but investors' play to push those shares down can have a negative impact on the overall trading on the Russian stock market,' said Alexandr Kostyukov, an analyst at Veles Capital investment house in Moscow.
VTB said in a statement the Syrian leadership did not have accounts with the bank and that it regarded Blumenthal's call as 'a provocative attempt to mislead the public in the United States'.
The dollar-traded RTS index was up 0.1 percent at 1,440.5 points, while the rouble-denominated MICEX traded 0.2 percent higher at 1,476.4 points.
The rouble weakened against the dollar, trading 0.2 down at 32.28, reflecting softer oil prices.
Brent crude for November delivery slipped below $108 per barrel on Libya output beginning to rise.
The rouble weakened 0.2 percent versus the euro to 43.09 and it was down 0.2 percent against the dollar-euro basket at 37.15.
'The market will be all about the Fed meeting today,' analysts at VTB Capital said in a note, referring to the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meetings that ends today.
'Quantitative easing tapering is fully priced in and is a consensus, so its magnitude and strengthening in the forward guidance is going to be on the radars today.'
A statement by the FOMC is expected after the Moscow close.
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(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Toby Chopra and David Evans) Keywords: RUSSIA MARKETS/
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