Shares in Russian gas giant Gazprom leapt more than 30% in early Moscow trade on Wednesday after the company posted a record first-half profit and recommended interim dividends after the previous session's close.

On Tuesday, Gazprom said its board had recommended paying 51.03 roubles ($0.8505) per ordinary share in dividends on the first half of 2022, taking the overall dividend payout to 1.208 trillion roubles ($20.13 billion).

"Management's decision to make Gazprom's first-ever interim dividend has caught us, and the market, by complete surprise," said BCS Global Markets in a note. "In our view, this is easily one of the more positive shareholder events in the company’s history."

Gazprom dividends are a sensitive issue for the market, which was disappointed by the decision in June of its main shareholder, the Russian government, not to pay dividends on last year's results.

By 0721 GMT, Gazprom's Moscow-listed shares were up 27.6% at their strongest since June 30.

Led by the group, the dollar-denominated RTS index was up 3.6% to 1,255.7 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 4% higher at 2,399.1 points, earlier touching its strongest point since May 30.

The rouble was 0.4% weaker against the dollar at 60.17 and had lost 0.4% to trade at 60.25 versus the euro.

($1 = 60.0000 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Jan Harvey)