Rouble edges up on oil price surge, central bank in focus

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble firmed slightly in volatile early trade on Friday on surging oil prices though scepticism about a deal U.S. President Donald Trump said he had brokered between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut crude output capped gains.

By Andrey Ostroukh

MOSCOW, April 3 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed slightly in volatile early trade on Friday on surging oil prices though scepticism about a deal U.S. President Donald Trump said he had brokered between Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut crude output capped gains.

At 0747 GMT, the rouble was 0.1% up against the dollar at 77.20 RUBUTSTN=MCX and had gained 0.5% to trade at 83.40 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX.

The rouble, one of the worst-performing currencies against the greenback so far this year, is also under pressure from concerns that the coronavirus outbreak will send the oil-dependent economy into recession in the near future.

Fears about the economy were fuelled by President Vladimir Putin on Thursday after he prolonged until April 30 a paid non-working period across Russia, stepping up measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus a week after the Kremlin said there was no epidemic.

The non-working period during which all shops and cafes are closed except for grocery stores and pharmacies is expected to hammer small and medium businesses already hit by the rouble's drop to four-year lows of nearly 82 per dollar in March.

Losses in the rouble are limited by the central bank that last month started selling foreign exchange for the first time since 2015 in an effort to prop up the Russian currency.

Having sold more than $2 billion worth of foreign currency in March, the central bank said on Friday it will continue with the sales from state reserves on a daily basis throughout this month.

Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina is in focus as she will hold a first online news conference at 1100 GMT on financial and economic measures that Russia is taking to withstand oil and coronavirus shocks.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 6.6% at $31.90 a barrel after oil prices posted their biggest-one day gains on record. O/R

Russian stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 1.5% to 1,049.3 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 1.3% higher at 2,574.2 points.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

((andrey.ostroukh@thomsonreuters.com; +7 495 775 1242;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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