Rouble marginally firmer after c.bank holds rates at record low

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble firmed slightly on Friday, hovering near 75 against the dollar after the central bank opted to hold interest rates at a record low of 4.25%, a decision forecast by analysts and already priced in by the market.

By 1126 GMT, the rouble was 0.1% stronger against the U.S. dollar at 75.09 RUBUTSTN=MCX, heading away from a nearly half-year low of 76.5950 hit last week.

The rouble gained 0.2% to 88.93 EURRUBTN=MCX against the euro.

A rouble decline, sparked by fears that the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and the political crisis in neighbouring Belarus could lead to more sanctions against Moscow, prompted many economists to revise their forecast for the central bank's rates.

"With geopolitical risks rising around U.S. elections, threats of sanctions on the Navalny issue, election meddling and Belarus, the CBR is back to Fortress Russia settings," said Timothy Ash, senior emerging markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management.

Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS Global Markets, said: "A combination of rising geopolitical risks and increased volatility of global markets proved to be a much stronger argument for a rate pause than recent stabilisation in weekly inflation (now hovering at 3.7% y/y) and a bounce in crude oil prices."

The on-hold decision was already priced in and would not have a significant impact on the rouble, Promsvyazbank said in a note ahead of the decision.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.5% at $43.10 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were marginally down. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTSshed 0.1% to 1,241.9 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX fell 0.4% to 2,959.9 points.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Alexander Marrow; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Shailesh Kuber)

((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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