Rouble firms from multi-month lows as tax payments loom, Rusal outperforms

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble firmed on Monday, recovering from multi-month lows thanks to month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert foreign currency to meet local liabilities.

MOSCOW, Aug 24 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed on Monday, recovering from multi-month lows thanks to month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert foreign currency to meet local liabilities.

At 0739 GMT, the rouble was 0.6% stronger against the dollar at 74.38 RUBUTSTN=MCX, clawing back some ground after hitting its weakest since early May on Friday at 75.01.

Versus the euro, the rouble gained 0.4% to 87.84 EURRUBTN=MCX, recovering from Friday's low of 88.30, its weakest point since April.

The rouble's gains however do not seem to be sustainable, analysts said.

"We note that this month's major tax payments are due tomorrow, so the offer of hard currency from exporters is to decrease this week," VTB Capital said.

The rouble came under pressure this month as Belarus was rocked by demonstrations against its leadership, raising fears that Moscow may somehow become involved, which would increase risks of more Western sanctions.

Risk aversion was also boosted by news that Alexei Navalny, a long-time opponent of President Vladimir Putin, had allegedly been poisoned and evacuated to Germany for medical treatment.

"Recent developments in Russia and the near abroad make the local market unappetizing at a time when investors are already risk-off," BCS Brokerage said.

"As such, we can expect high volatility and sensitivity to headline news, (with) 'buy-on-dippers' among the only supporting factors."

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.7% at $44.66 a barrel, lending support to Russian stocks.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 1.5% at 1,281.3 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.9% higher at 3,022.6 points.

Moscow-listed shares in Russian aluminium producer Rusal RUAL.MM outperformed the market, climbing 2.3% on the day, after its Hong Kong 0486.HK shares were included in the FTSE All-World index.

"The chilling-out period after the sanctions removal has passed," VTB Capital said.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Jan Harvey)

((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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