Ruble rises above 75 against dollar, stocks rise on diplomacy

MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) – The ruble firmed on Wednesday to a nearly four-week high against the dollar and the euro, and stock indexes rose higher as traders welcomed diplomatic efforts aimed at easing tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine. .

At 10:20 GMT, the ruble was up 0.3% at 74.76 against the dollar after approaching 74.65, its strongest since Jan. 13. Against the euro, the ruble gained 0.3% to 85.41, also its highest level since Jan. 13.

The ruble remains volatile but rallied after hitting a nearly 15-month low of 80.4125 in late January when Western powers threatened to impose more sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied having such plans.

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“Increased volatility is an unwanted companion to the tensions we face now,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on sanctions-related risks to Russia that global ratings agencies have addressed in reports. Tuesday.

This week, the ruble extended its gains after French President Emmanuel Macron met Russian Vladimir Putin in Moscow and said he believed steps could be taken to defuse the crisis, calling on all parties to remain calm. Read more

“More high-level ‘shuttle diplomacy’ is to come this week and next, suggesting that each side’s swords will remain sheathed for now, at least, which should further ease market jitters,” BCS Global Markets said in a note.

The finance ministry is in focus as it will offer two rounds of OFZ government bonds at weekly auctions which it had to cancel earlier this year amid a large-scale sell-off in Russian markets.

Demand for OFZ bonds is generally supporting the rouble, which may get further support from the central bank which is expected to sharply raise its key interest rate to 9.5% on Friday. Read more

Russian stock indices rose, supported by Brent prices which hovered above $90 a barrel.

The dollar-denominated RTS index (.IRTS) rose 2.4% to 1,525.0 points. Russia’s rouble-based MOEX index (.IMOEX) rose 1.9% to 3,618.2 points, its highest level since Jan. 17.

Russian stocks have underperformed global oil prices this year due to geopolitical tensions around Ukraine and will remain an attractive buy even if oil prices fall to $75 a barrel, said Dmitry Skryabin, fund manager. portfolio at Alfa Capital.

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Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; additional reporting by Dmitry Antonov; edited by Philippa Fletcher

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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