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Markets

Rouble steadies as Russia's COVID-19 cases hit new highs

  • The Russian currency was little changed at 76.10 against the dollar by 0744 GMT, having hit 75.52 on Wednesday, its strongest since Sept. 18.
20 Nov 2020

MOSCOW: The rouble steadied against the dollar on Friday after touching a two-month high this week as the price of oil, Russia's key export, stabilised while a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gathered pace.

The Russian currency was little changed at 76.10 against the dollar by 0744 GMT, having hit 75.52 on Wednesday, its strongest since Sept. 18.

Against the euro, the rouble was flat at 90.34.

The rouble traded around 61 to the dollar and 70 against the euro in early 2020 before oil prices plunged and the coronavirus crisis hit.

Selling pressure could return if oil prices head lower, but this will be offset by export-focused Russian companies converting foreign currency to meet month-end taxes, said Promsvyazbank chief analyst Bogdan Zvarich.

Oil prices were on track for a third straight week of gains, though demand concerns stemming from surging coronavirus cases and renewed lockdowns in several countries capped further gains.

In Russia, COVID-19 cases passed 2 million this week, with the number of daily cases and deaths hitting highs almost every day.

Authorities, however, have so far resisted imposing lockdown restrictions across the country as they did earlier this year.

Monthly data from the statistics service is expected to shed further light on the state of a Russian economy battered by the COVID-19 crisis. Rosstat is due to publish the data at 1600 GMT.

Russian stock indexes lacked momentum, meanwhile, with the dollar-denominated RTS index up 0.1% at 1,260.3 points.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was down 0.03% at 3,045.5 points.