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Markets

Russian rouble falls on oil price slide and risk aversion

The rouble was 1.3pc weaker against the dollar at 71.89, stepping away from its strongest level since early March o
22 May 2020
  • The rouble was 1.3pc weaker against the dollar at 71.89, stepping away from its strongest level since early March of 70.60 that it hit on Thursday.
  • Versus the euro, the rouble lost 1pc to trade at 78.43.
  • The dollar-denominated RTS index declined 2.2pc to 1,179.8 points.

MOSCOW: Russia's rouble weakened on Friday, hit by a drop in oil prices and renewed global risk aversion from US-Chinese frictions.

Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina was in focus as she was due to hold an online media conference at 1000 GMT to spell out the central bank's plans to combat implications of the coronavirus outbreak and related lockdowns.

At 0742 GMT, the rouble was 1.3pc weaker against the dollar at 71.89, stepping away from its strongest level since early March of 70.60 that it hit on Thursday.

Versus the euro, the rouble lost 1pc to trade at 78.43.

The rouble came under pressure amid the finance ministry's plan to increase state borrowing to cover budget shortfalls, which can dent interest in government bonds despite the central bank's plan to cut rates, said Dmitry Polevoy, chief economist at the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

Russian OFZ treasury bonds, popular among foreign investors, hit record highs this week on expectations that the central bank will slash rates next month and later on to cushion economic contraction amid the pandemic.

The economy ministry said late on Thursday the Russian economy was on track to shrink by 5pc in 2020 and the rouble will remain weak as the pandemic and low prices for oil, the nation's main export, hit home.

Losses in the rouble were partially offset by month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert part of their revenues to meet local liabilities.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, fell 5.4pc to $34.11 a barrel, sending stock indexes lower.

The dollar-denominated RTS index declined 2.2pc to 1,179.8 points.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1pc lower at 2,692.2 points.