Rouble falls on rising COVID-19 cases, lower oil prices

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble slid to its weakest level since early October against the dollar on Wednesday, taking a hit from falling oil prices, rising global COVID-19 cases and uncertainty before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Updates with rouble weakening, OFZ auction

MOSCOW, Oct 28 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble slid to its weakest level since early October against the dollar on Wednesday, taking a hit from falling oil prices, rising global COVID-19 cases and uncertainty before the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

Having gradually recovered from mid-October, the rouble retreated this week. It weakened more than 1.5% on the day to 78.44 against the dollar as of 1140 GMT after touching 78.5750, a level last seen on Oct. 6.

The rouble extended losses as Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, slid below $40 a barrel as a surge in U.S. crude stocks and rising coronavirus infections fanned fears of a supply glut and weaker fuel demand.

Russia on Wednesday reported a daily record high of COVID-19 deaths and promised to send army medics to a region in the Urals hit by a surge in infections.

Against the euro, the rouble shed 0.6% to trade at 91.88 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX, having briefly hit 92.2050, its weakest level since Oct. 8.

The rouble shrugged off the finance ministry's weekly auctions of OFZ treasury bonds that usually buttress the Russian currency.

The finance ministry sold a record 430.2 billion roubles ($5.49 billion) at a single auction on Wednesday, moving closer to fulfilling its 2020 borrowing plan designed to plug holes in the budget amid the coronavirus-induced crisis.

The decline on Russian markets and in the rouble was partly caused by geopolitical factors and increased expectations that Democrat Joe Biden could win the U.S. presidential election, which could threaten Russia with new sanctions, said Veles Capital analyst Elena Kozhukhova.

Opinion polls showing a solid lead for Biden have recently reduced appetite for Russian assets, with investors expecting greater friction between Washington and Moscow.

Russian stock indexes were falling. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 3.8% to 1,088.8 points, a more than five-month low. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 2% lower at 2,708.9 points, its lowest since mid-July.

($1 = 78.3500 roubles)

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow and Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

((alexander.marrow@thomsonreuters.com;))

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