Rouble nears seven-week low vs dollar as sanction threat dominates

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble weakened on Tuesday, nearing a seven-week low against the dollar, as the market awaited new U.S. sanctions against Moscow, while stocks indexes dipped as oil prices slid.

MOSCOW, March 23 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble weakened on Tuesday, nearing a seven-week low against the dollar, as the market awaited new U.S. sanctions against Moscow, while stocks indexes dipped as oil prices slid.

Russian assets have been under pressure since last week as Russia braces for a new round of U.S. sanctions over what Washington says was its meddling in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which Moscow denies.

At 0750 GMT, the rouble was 0.5% weaker against the dollar at 75.34 RUBUTSTN=MCX, a level last seen on Feb. 5.

Against the euro, the rouble shed 0.4% to 89.75 EURRUBTN=MCX, its weakest since early March.

Foreign and local players could take defensive positions in the rouble until more clarity over the possible sanctions transpires, Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, said.

President Joe Biden has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will "pay a price" and is expected to impose sanctions as soon as this week that could range from freezing the U.S. assets of Russians to curbing Moscow's ability to issue sovereign debt.

Russian stock indexes were down as Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, slid 1.1% to $63.91 a barrel.

The Russian market came under pressure from lower oil prices, fears that U.S. sanctions could target Russian debt as well as from the central bank's decision to raise rates, Sberbank Asset Management said.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS fell 1.1% to 1,450.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.6% lower at 3,469.4 points, having hit an all-time high of 3,602.18 last week.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; editing by Barbara Lewis)

((andrey.ostroukh@thomsonreuters.com;))

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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