Rouble firms towards 60 vs dollar, Gazprom shares rally


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MOSCOW — The rouble firmed towards 60 against the dollar and euro in Moscow trade on Tuesday, while oil prices staying above $100 a barrel helped push Russia’s benchmark stock index to its highest point in two months, led by energy giant Gazprom.

By 1505 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% stronger against the dollar at 60.19 and had gained 0.2% to trade at 60.28 versus the euro.

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Analysts had said the rouble could weaken after the peak of a month-end tax payments period, in which Russia’s exporters usually convert foreign currency earnings into roubles, passed last week.

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The rouble has spent most of August near 60 per dollar. Volatility has subsided since it hit a record low of 121.53 per dollar in Moscow trade in March, soon after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. It then rallied to its strongest in seven years of 50.01 per dollar in June.

So far this year, the rouble has been the world’s best-performing currency, buoyed by emergency capital controls rolled out by the central bank in a bid to halt a mass sell-off. This helped to avoid economic meltdown that many had predicted.

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“The Russian stock market should continue to head north as it is fully isolated from the Western negative,” said BCS Global Markets in a note. “The key supportive factor is the oil market – Brent should hold above $100/bbl in the short-term, though volatility would persist as bears and bulls fight for the crude market.”

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 4.2% at $100.6 a barrel, having started the session near its strongest mark in a month.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.1% higher at 2,298.6 points, earlier touching its strongest level since June 30 of 2,314.53 points.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.5% at 1,203.4 points.

Gazprom shares strongly outperformed, up 5.4%, with flows flows on the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline to Germany due to halt from 0100 GMT on Aug. 31.

Tech giant Yandex’s Moscow-listed shares gained 3% after Russia’s anti-monopoly service approved the tech giant’s asset-swap deal with rival VK. (Reporting by Alexander Marrow Editing by Alistair Bell)


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