Rouble hits near one-month low vs dollar, Russia increases FX sales

A customer hands over Russian rouble banknotes and coins to a vendor at a market in Omsk, Russia 29 October, 2021Reuters

The rouble fell to a near one-month low past 71 to the dollar in early trade on Tuesday, before staging a marginal recovery as Russia almost tripled its daily foreign currency sales, a day after posting a yawning budget deficit for January.

At 0717 GMT, the rouble was 0.2 per cent stronger against the dollar at 70.84, earlier touching 71.2475, its weakest since 9 January.

It gained 0.4 per cent to trade at 76.01 versus the euro and had firmed 0.1 per cent against the yuan to 10.41.

Increased sales of China’s yuan will support the rouble, but it will remain in a moderately declining trend, said Alor Broker in a note.

Russia plans to sell 8.9 billion roubles ($125.62 million) worth of foreign currency per day from Tuesday, a near three-fold increase on the previous month, compensating for lower oil and gas revenue.

Slumping energy revenues and soaring expenditure pushed Russia’s federal budget to a deficit of about $25 billion in January, as sanctions and the cost of Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine choke the economy’s prospects. January oil and gas revenues were 46.4 per cent lower year-on-year.

European Union countries last week agreed to set price caps at $100 per barrel on products that trade at a premium to crude, principally diesel, and $45 per barrel for products that trade at a discount, such as fuel oil and naphtha.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 1.4 per cent at $82.1 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were higher.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.3 per cent higher at 2,278.1 points, its highest mark since mid-September. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 0.6 per cent to 1,013.1 points.

Analysts polled by Reuters expect Russia’s central bank to hold its key interest rate at 7.5 per cent on Friday, but to give a more hawkish signal to the market.

“It is quite possible that its rhetoric will be tightened somewhat, as proinflationary factors appear to be intensifying,” said Artem Arkhipov, head of macroeconomic research and strategic analysis at UniCredit.