Ruble closes above 75 against USD, stocks rise with eye on tensions


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 07:35 GMT, the ruble was up 0.3% to 74.80 against the dollar, a level last seen on January 13. Against the euro, the ruble gained 0.3% to 85.37, also its highest level since Jan. 13.

The ruble is on the mend 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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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 banks, which are currently the main buyers of OFZ, are looking for clues from the central bank on when the rate hike cycle might be over “to bet more heavily on the long end of the bond spectrum”, they said. said Rosbank analysts.

Russian stock indices were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index (.IRTS) rose 1.7% to 1,515.3 points. Russia’s ruble-based MOEX index (.IMOEX) rose 1.2% to 3,594.7 points, its highest level since Jan. 17.

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Report by Andrey Ostroukh

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