Russia to increase state FX purchases in January as oil prices rise


MOSCOW, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Russia's finance ministry is expected to increase purchases of foreign currency in January in line with government targets, as oil prices hit three-year highs, according to a Reuters poll.

The median forecast of nine analysts polled by Reuters was for the ministry to buy the equivalent of 242 billion roubles ($4.25 billion) between Jan. 15 and Feb. 6, up from the 203.9 billion roubles in December.

The purchasing period is shorter than usual because of Russia's New Year and orthodox Christmas holidays, which ran from Dec. 30 to Jan. 8, meaning the amount of daily purchases was unclear.

But prices for crude oil, Russia's main export, have since recovered to their highest levels since 2014, and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in December that would trigger increased FX purchases this year.

Siluanov said the finance ministry could spend around 2 trillion roubles on foreign currency this year if prices for Russia's crude blend Urals are at $54 to 55 per barrel.

"The average price of oil has increased, both in U.S. dollars and roubles. The finance ministry promised to be more aggressive in its currency purchases after 2017," said Danske Bank analyst Vladimir Miklashevsky.

Global benchmark Brent crude oil traded at $69.26 a barrel on in early trade on Wednesday, up 0.6 percent from the previous session. Urals last traded at $69.23 a barrel, late on Tuesday.

($1 = 56.8862 roubles)

This article appears in: Politics , Stocks , World Markets , Commodities

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