Ruble drops after rally, stocks fall on new US sanctions

A Russian one ruble coin is seen in this illustration taken April 5, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Illustration

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  • Russia’s Cenbank unexpectedly lowers key rate to 17%
  • The ruble rallies to the strongest since June 2020 against the euro
  • At the end of the day, the ruble reverses its net gains and weakens
  • Mixed actions after new US sanctions

April 8 (Reuters) – The Russian ruble on Friday hit its highest level against the euro since June 2020 after an unexpected central bank rate cut, but quickly reversed the gains and ended the day in the red, while that shares fell after the US Congress vote. ban Russian oil.

The central bank cut its benchmark rate to 17% from 20% ahead of a regular board meeting scheduled for April 29, and said it was open to possible further cuts at future meetings. Read more

The volatile ruble rallied shortly after the rate cut, which partially reversed the emergency rate hike the central bank announced in late February after Russia launched what it calls “a military operation special” in Ukraine on 24 February. The floating Russian currency ended trading on the Moscow Stock Exchange at levels seen on Thursday.

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The ruble eased 0.4% to 76.08 against the dollar, after briefly hitting its highest level since November 71.

Against the euro, the ruble lost 1.5% to 82.70 after briefly touching 77.0750 for the first time since late June 2020.

The ruble’s rapid recovery from record lows in March raises doubts about the sustainability of its gains. Anyone who tries to buy foreign currency online from a bank in Russia or illegally from a currency exchange, or buys goods and services online denominated in foreign currency will find the real rate considerably worse. Read more

Yields on 10-year OFZ Treasury notes, which move inversely to their prices, fell to 10.77% from 11.62% before the rate cut.

The surprise rate cut came after Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said this week that his ministry was working with the central bank on measures to make the ruble’s exchange rate more predictable and less volatile.

“If the experience of the 2014/15 ruble crisis is any guide, a sharp decline in interest rates (like the one seen today) is likely to be followed by a much more gradual easing, the CBR aiming for a significant positive real interest rate to bring inflation back to its target,” Capital Economics said in a note.

LockoInvest said it revised its year-end rate forecast to 11-12% from a maximum of 15%.

VOLATILE MARKETS

Ruble movements remain jittery and trading volumes on the Moscow Stock Exchange are below average, but the ruble has fully recovered to levels seen before Russian troops entered Ukraine.

The ruble is supported by Russia’s strong current account surplus amid high commodity prices as well as Russian capital controls, said Olga Belenkaya, head of macro research at Finam brokerage.

The ruble has recently been driven by the compulsory conversion of income into dollars and euros by export-oriented companies, while the demand for currencies is limited by a ban on buying dollars and euros in cash as well as by a 12% commission on the purchase of currencies online or through a bank.

Given the latest strengthening of the ruble, some recovery in demand for foreign currency is possible despite the commission, Otkritie Bank said in a note.

On the stock market, the RTS index denominated in dollars (.IRTS) fell 1.14% to 1,079.99 points. Russia’s ruble-based MOEX index (.IMOEX) fell 1.6% to 2,592.7 points.

Shares of oil company Bashneft (BANE.MM) underperformed the market, losing 4.5% on the day, while shares of rival Lukoil (LKOH.MM) fell 1%.

Oil stocks took a hit after the US Congress voted on Thursday to impose further economic hardship on Russia for its actions in Ukraine, passing a measure to remove its ‘most favored nation’ trade status and another to ban oil imports, which puts into law a previous executive order by President Joe Biden. Read more

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Reuters reporting; Editing by Kim Coghill, Carmel Crimmins and Leslie Adler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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