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Russian rouble reverses losses

by Carl Steward
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Putin's War Crushes the RoubleRussian rouble reverses losses

As markets awaited a new round of talks between Moscow and Kyiv, the Russian rouble surged on Monday, reversing earlier losses. The MOEX benchmark stock index recovered to levels last seen before Russia launched hundreds of troops into Ukraine.

Investors were keeping an eye on events surrounding Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine, which began on February 24, as well as the possibility of further Western sanctions against Moscow, on top of the previously imposed exceptional penalties.

The rouble was 0.8 percent firmer against the dollar at 83.25 (RUBUTSTN=MCX) , erasing earlier losses but still weaker than the 80.3325 high reached on Friday.

The rouble rose 1.8 percent to 91.33 (EUR RUB) against the euro, moving away from an all-time low of roughly 132.42 set in Moscow trade on March 10.

Capital controls and President Vladimir Putin’s demand that European customers of Russian natural gas pay in roubles have boosted the rouble in recent weeks. However, when the prospect of a supply suspension faded, Europe pledged to stand united against Moscow’s demands.

In a report, Promsvyazbank analysts predicted that the rouble would trade in 80-90 to the dollar during the following two weeks.

The market was also scrutinizing Russia’s ability to service its foreign debt. Volatile trading resumed in the stock market, but nearly all blue chips were in the black after the market returned last week after a nearly month-long absence. The RTS Index (RTSI), denominated in dollars, increased by 1.4 percent to 1,047.7 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index (IMOEX) was up 0.3 percent at 2,769.2 points after reaching a high of 2,835.46 on February 22.

In a statement, Finam brokerage predicted that the MOEX index would continue to rise toward a target of roughly 3,080 points.

VTB (VTBR), Russia’s second-largest sanctioned banking, beat the market on the day, rising 7.9%. Sberbank, the world’s largest lender, was up 4.5 percent (SBER).

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