Rouble holds steady as oil prices edge up, but COVID risks heighten

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble opened steady on Monday, supported by marginally higher oil prices but hampered by rising coronavirus cases at home and abroad which threaten more restrictions that might harm risk assets.

MOSCOW, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble opened steady on Monday, supported by marginally higher oil prices but hampered by rising coronavirus cases at home and abroad which threaten more restrictions that might harm risk assets.

At 0722 GMT, the rouble was 0.1% stronger against the dollar at 77.85 RUBUTSTN=MCX and had also gained 0.1% to 91.17 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX.

"Optimism is fading as round two of COVID ramps up and the consequent shuttering of economies begins," said BCS Global Markets in a note.

Cases showed a record one-day increase of more than 400,000 late last week with much of Europe bringing in new restrictions. But in Moscow, the mayor said there were signs authorities were getting the outbreak under control, despite more than 3,000 new infections each day since early October.

The external background was neutral, said Andrei Kochetkov of Otkritie Brokerage, adding that the rouble, which has been moving steadily away from a six-month low hit in late September, could continue its recovery against the backdrop of weakening geopolitical risks.

The European Union and Britain last week imposed sanctions against some top Russian officials over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. A political crisis in neighbouring Belarus and military conflict in the South Caucasus are ongoing.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.4% at $43.11 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were marginally higher, pulling away from month-long lows hit on Friday.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 0.1% to 1,134.4 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.1% higher at 2,803.1.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

((alexander.marrow@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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