Rouble firms past 78 vs dollar, sanctions and COVID-19 in focus

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble firmed slightly on Friday but traded near recent lows under pressure from fresh Western sanctions against Russian officials and lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

MOSCOW, Oct 16 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed slightly on Friday but traded near recent lows under pressure from fresh Western sanctions against Russian officials and lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

At 0802 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% stronger against the dollar at 77.91 RUBUTSTN=MCX after briefly touching 78.20, its weakest since Oct. 7.

Against the euro, the rouble was 0.2% stronger at 91.28 EURRUBTN=MCX, hovering near its weakest level since early 2016 of 93.32, which it hit in late September.

The already-battered rouble took a hit from new sanctions against top Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin in what became the response from the European Union and Britain to the August poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

"We do not think the sanctions announced by EU foreign ministers, targeted at six individuals and one corporation, will have substantial market or economic impacts on Russia," BNP Paribas said in a note.

"Our main concern relates to potential U.S. measures," it said, adding that more financial restrictions against Russia could be considered after the U.S. presidential election in November.

The upcoming U.S. election remains the only 'strategic' obstacle for a quick recovery in the rouble, said Rosbank, a Russian subsidiary of Societe Generale.

Rising coronavirus cases at home and abroad limited room for a recovery in Russian assets, with new lockdown restrictions and pessimism over U.S. stimulus measures reducing risk appetite.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.7% at $42.87 a barrel, dragged down by concerns that a spike in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States is curtailing demand. O/R

Russian stock indexes were mixed. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 0.2% to 1,134.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.4% lower at 2,807.8 points.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

((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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