Russian ruble surges as volatile year draws to a close
The ruble strengthened sharply on Friday, nearing the 70 mark against the dollar as a highly volatile year drew to a close, with the final month of trading dominated by fears over the impact of a Western oil price cap on Russia's export revenues.
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By 0755 GMT, the roble was 1.8 percent stronger against the dollar at 70.87, recovering some ground from the eight-month low of 72.9175 hit in the previous session.
The ruble has lost around 13 percent to the dollar since the price cap on Russian oil exports came into force on December 5, although analysts have said the technical impact would be more strongly felt in January-February.
It had gained 0.4 percent to trade at 75.58 versus the euro and firmed 2.9 percent against the yuan to 9.89.
The finance ministry on Friday said the maximum possible share of Chinese yuan in its National Wealth Fund (NWF) had been doubled to 60 percent as it restructures its rainy-day fund to reduce dependency on currencies from so-called “unfriendly” nations.
Recovering imports, which collapsed in the wake of Russia sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine as the West imposed sanctions and companies left the market, have also contributed to the ruble’s weakening.
“Even in a pessimistic scenario, the current account surplus could remain at a historically high level, providing the ruble some support,” said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest.
“Our estimates vary from 67.4 to 81.1 per dollar on average in 2023.”
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.6 percent at $84.0 a barrel.
President Vladimir Putin this week delivered Russia’s long-awaited response to the price cap, signing a decree that bans the supply of crude oil and oil products from Feb. 1 for five months to nations that abide by it.
Russian stock indexes were mixed.
The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 1.6 percent to 951.3 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.2 percent lower at 2,143.5 points.
Shares in toy retailer Detsky Mir slipped to their lowest since November 21, down 3.1 percent on the day, after the firm’s shareholders agreed to restructure the business in the form of a spin-off, as part of a reorganization that could see the company become private.
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