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Rouble recovers from lows, eyes on Putin and U.S. Fed

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The Russian rouble recovered on Thursday from its lowest since early 2016 against the euro, as traders braced for fallout from an opposition leader's alleged poisoning, a crisis in Belarus and the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary outlook.

By Andrey Ostroukh

MOSCOW, Aug 27 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble recovered on Thursday from its lowest since early 2016 against the euro, as traders braced for fallout from an opposition leader's alleged poisoning, a crisis in Belarus and the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary outlook.

President Vladimir Putin is set to give a televised interview at 1100 GMT where he may touch upon the hot topics of August that caused the rouble to crash despite a relatively positive global background and higher oil prices.

At 0843 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% stronger against the dollar at 75.11 RUBUTSTN=MCX, gaining from the 76.0025 reached on Wednesday, its weakest since April.

Versus the euro, the rouble gained 0.4% to trade at 88.91EURRUBTN=MCX, up from Wednesday's low of 89.8050, a level last seen in February 2016. It had been as strong as 70 per euro in early 2020.

The currency tumbled this week as concern grew that Moscow's ties with the West may deteriorate if it intervenes in the crisis in neighbouring Belarus.

Adding to the pressure on the rouble and fuelling concerns about more sanctions, the Kremlin has also declined for now to investigate the circumstances surrounding the sudden illness of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny, which German doctors said could be from poisoning.

"It is worth noting that, despite making political noises, western countries have not really imposed sanctions on Russia for persecution of domestic Kremlin critics," said Tatha Ghose at Commerzbank in London.

"While some caution may be prudent when it comes to the rouble, the base-case assumption is that the risk spike will fade in coming months, with the higher oil price then having a positive impact on the exchange rate."

The market focus is expected to shift to Fed Chair Jerome Powell's address to the virtual Jackson Hole summit at 1310 GMT, when he is to present the Fed's monetary policy outlook.

On the stock market, the dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 0.05% to 1,272.6 points but the rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX slid 0.63 to 3,034.4 points.

"Russian stocks are expected to come under pressure today due to geopolitical tensions, and investors are likely to hug the sidelines ahead of Jerome Powell"s speech on Fed strategy," Alfa Bank said.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow and Karin Strohecker in London; editing by Barbara Lewis)

((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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