Rouble recovers as U.S. trims rate, Russia to cut state FX buying

Credit: REUTERS/ILYA NAYMUSHIN

The Russian rouble firmed and stock indexes dipped lower on Wednesday as investors digested an emergency rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve that followed a massive global market sell-off over coronavirus fears.

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MOSCOW, March 4 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed and stock indexes dipped lower on Wednesday as investors digested an emergency rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve that followed a massive global market sell-off over coronavirus fears.

The rouble saw some decrease in downside pressure from the finance ministry's decision to almost halve its daily buying of foreign currency for the state reserves in the month ahead.

The Russian currency firmed 0.7% to 65.60 versus the dollar as of 1036 GMT, having shed more than 6% of its value against the greenback so far this year RUBUTSTN=MCX.

Against the euro, the rouble gained 0.8% to 73.18 EURRUBTN=MCX, away from its 2020 low of 75 touched on Monday.

The rouble got a respite, following several volatile days of losses driven by the global sell-off, after the U.S. Fed cut rates on Tuesday in a bid to shield the world's largest economy from the impact of the coronavirus.

"The rouble may continue its upward move today ahead of the OPEC+ summit where an additional output cut is expected," said Bogdan Zvarich, chief analyst at Promsvyazbank.

On Tuesday, a panel of OPEC and its allies recommended cutting oil output by an extra 1 million barrels per day, signalling that Russia and Saudi Arabia were moving closer to a deal to prop up prices hit by the coronavirus.

A final decision, crucial for oil markets and the rouble, should be made later this week. Brent crude oil LCOc1, a benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 1.1% at $52.43 a barrel.

The U.S. Fed move, however, failed to reassure stock markets roiled by worries about a global economic slowdown.

"While the (Fed) action was intended to steady market confidence, the sharpness of their reaction and the off-schedule timing of the move is being interpreted as the Fed being much more concerned about the economic impact of the c-virus than first thought," Alfa Bank said.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS slid 0.2% to 1,356.1 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was up 0.1% at 2,824.1, heading away from a 2020 low of 2,714.36 touched on Monday.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

((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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