Russian stocks slipped from multi-week highs on Wednesday and the rouble turned lower against the dollar and euro, as falling oil prices outweighed the effect of upcoming tax payments that usually boost demand for the Russian currency.
By 0900 GMT, the rouble had lost 0.5 per cent to trade at 62.42 versus the euro, after earlier clipping a one-week high of 61.60. It was 0.3 per cent weaker against the dollar at 61.06.
The rouble is the world’s best-performing currency this year thanks to capital controls and is expected to find more support soon from month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert part of their foreign currency revenues.
The rouble is likely to trade in a range of 60 to 62 against the dollar until exporters become more active in terms of tax payments, Promsvyazbank analysts said in a note.
Rouble volatility has declined recently after wild swings carried it to a record low of 121.53 against the dollar on the Moscow Exchange in March, days after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24, before rallying in June to a seven-year peak of 50.01.
Economy ministry forecasts seen by Reuters suggest Russia’s economy is dealing with sanctions better than initially feared and will contract less than expected.
Trading curbs on Russian markets are gradually easing. The Moscow Exchange (MOEX.MM) has permitted investors from “friendly” jurisdictions, or those which have not imposed sanctions on Russia, to start trading on the derivatives market after an almost six-month hiatus.
That ruling does not apply to the main stock market, but since Monday, the exchange has allowed non-residents from “friendly” countries to trade bonds.
“A positive factor now is the fact that, with the return of non-resident investors to the debt market, there was no selling overhang,” said Alfa Capital.
Brent crude oil , a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, hit a six-month low on Wednesday, sending Russian stock indexes lower.
The dollar-denominated RTS index (.IRTS) was down 0.5 per cent to 1,135.9 points, after earlier hitting its strongest mark since late July. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index (.IMOEX) was 0.3 per cent lower at 2,202.0 points, falling away from a more than five-week high of 2,225.05 points hit in early trade.
Traders and fund managers have left crude oil markets in recent months, dropping activity to a seven-year low amid the worst global energy crisis in decades as investors become unwilling to deal with persistently high volatility.