Rouble weakens, stocks hit 3-month low as oil prices slip, COVID threat remains

Credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

The rouble weakened on Tuesday and Russian stocks fell to three-month lows, hurt by a slip in oil prices, rising COVID-19 cases at home and abroad, and fading optimism over a potential U.S. stimulus package.

MOSCOW, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The rouble weakened on Tuesday and Russian stocks fell to three-month lows, hurt by a slip in oil prices, rising COVID-19 cases at home and abroad, and fading optimism over a potential U.S. stimulus package.

At 0736 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% weaker against the dollar at 77.87 RUBUTSTN=MCX and had lost 0.3% to trade at 91.62 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.5% at $42.42 a barrel.

The external background was moderately negative, said Bogdan Zvarich, chief analyst at Promsvyazbank, pointing to sliding oil prices and weakening emerging market currencies.

"In the coming sessions we expect the dollar to maintain its position in the range of 77.5-80 roubles, seeing no reason to go beyond this border," he said.

Expectations that U.S. lawmakers might still agree on a fiscal stimulus package at the 11th hour ahead of the Nov. 3 election offered some support to the rouble, but hopes were fading.

Alleged Russian hacking attempts were in the spotlight after Britain and the United States on Monday condemned what they said were a litany of malicious cyberattacks orchestrated by Russian military intelligence.

Other geopolitical risks were easing, such as the fallout over the poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, although a new ceasefire between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus was in jeopardy as heavy fighting continued.

Russia reported a new record daily high of 15,982 coronavirus cases on Monday, but authorities insisted strict restrictions to contain the virus were not needed.

Russian stock indexes were lower.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 0.9% to 1,125.2 points, close to a more than five-month low. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.4% lower at 2,782.0 points, having earlier reaching its lowest mark since July 20.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

((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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