Russian rouble pares some gains after central bank hikes rates

by | Sep 15, 2023 | Economy

By Alexander Marrow

(Reuters) -The rouble strengthened on Friday but gave up some intraday gains after the Bank of Russia raised interest rates to 13%, a move anticipated by the market as the country battles inflationary pressures exacerbated by its weak currency.

The central bank had hiked rates by 350 basis points to 12% at an emergency meeting last month, responding to the rouble’s tumble past 100 to the dollar, and most analysts polled by Reuters had expected Friday’s increase.

But as the currency hit six-week highs early this week, some economists, including the CEOs of Russia’s two largest banks, had been leaning in favour of a hold.

By 1403 GMT, the rouble was 0.4% stronger against the dollar at 96.92, down from a session high of 96.10.

It had gained 0.4% to trade at 103.43 versus the euro and had firmed 0.3% against the yuan to 13.31.

The central bank will keep rates high for quite a long time and until it becomes convinced that inflation is slowing down in a sustainable way, its governor Elvira Nabiullina said.

“For the rouble it is a delayed positive and the exchange rate may start to recover,” said BCS World of Investments analyst Mikhail Zeltser. “In the medium term, expectations are more for 90 to the dollar than staying near the psychological 100 bar.”

The central bank sharply increased its foreign currency sales for a week starting on Thursday, seeking to compensate for the planned redemption of $3 billion worth of Russian Eurobonds on Sept. 16, but the rouble was unable to capitalise significantly.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.3% at $93.45 a barrel, dropping back after hitting its strongest since November 2022 earlier in the session. [O/R]

Russian stocks were higher.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.6% at 1,024.4 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was up 0.4% at 3,151.5 points.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alison Williams, Jane Merriman and Hugh Lawson)


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