Russian rouble near 4-month low as concerns over Navalny case, Belarus weigh


MOSCOW, Aug 26 (Reuters_) - The Russian rouble weakened on Wednesday, heading towards multi-month lows under pressure from concerns over the alleged poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and political turmoil in Belarus.

The rouble has bucked the generally positive mood on global markets this week due to concerns that Moscow could offer a helping hand to long-standing Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko or intervene in some way.

At 0717 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% weaker against the dollar at 75.45 RUBUTSTN=MCX, hovering near its weakest level since early May of 75.73 it hit on Tuesday.

Versus the euro, the rouble gained 0.1% to trade at 89.09 EURRUBTN=MCX, having hit its weakest point since late March at 89.41 the day before and trading far weaker than levels around 70 seen in early 2020.

Geopolitical risks remain in focus while other factors are largely being ignored, said Dmitry Gritskevich, head of banks and financial markets at Promsvyazbank.

A senior ally of Navalny said on Wednesday he believed only President Vladimir Putin could have authorised the suspected poisoning of the outspoken Kremlin critic. The Kremlin has dismissed all suggestions Putin was involved in Navalny falling ill.

The rouble may stabilise during the day and weaken in the evening when the central bank leaves the market with foreign currency selling, Gritskevich said.

The central bank has been selling the equivalent of 3.1 billion roubles ($41 million) a day this month in line with Russia's budget rules.

The finance ministry, the creator of this rule, is in focus as it will offer OFZ treasury bonds at a weekly auction after cancelling the auction last week due to market volatility.

Demand for these bonds is seen as a gauge of investors' attitude towards Russia.

Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.4% at $46.04 a barrel, helping stock indexes to recover.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was up 0.2% to 1,268.1 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.4% higher at 3,041.5 points.

For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY

For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM

($1 = 75.4560 roubles)

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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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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