The ruble depreciated to the weakest level against the dollar in almost three months and Russia’s local bonds fell as oil, the country’s chief export earner, declined in New York.
The Russian currency depreciated as much as 0.6 percent before trading down less than 0.1 percent at 30.113 per dollar by the close in Moscow, the lowest since Feb. 16. The yield on 119 billion rubles ($3.9 billion) of OFZ bonds due 2021 rose three basis points, or 0.03 percentage point, to 8.04 percent.
Crude futures slipped 0.2 percent to $96.86 per barrel in New York, poised for a second weekly drop. Oil may extend declines next week amid rising U.S. stockpiles and concern the debt crisis in Europe will spread, according to a Bloomberg survey.
“We don’t see too many long positions in the ruble,” Sergey Fishgoyt, deputy head of foreign exchange at Otkritie Bank in Moscow, said by e-mail. “The market doesn’t look in panic, we will watch the continuing dynamics in the international markets.”
Russia’s trade surplus narrowed to $19.4 billion in March from a revised $20.3 billion in the previous month, the central bank said on its website today. That compares with expectations of $20.9 billion, according to a Bloomberg survey of 11 economists.
The Russian currency is more likely to weaken than strengthen against the dollar next week, Fishgoyt said.
Bank Rossii manages the ruble within a so-called “floating corridor” against a basket of dollars and euros to limit swings that erode exporters’ competitiveness. The current level against the basket implies the bank may be buying about $120 million a day in other currencies against the ruble, according to Otkritie’s estimates.
Bets on Weakening
Investors increased bets on the currency weakening, with non-deliverable forwards showing the ruble at 30.568 per dollar in three months, compared with expectations of 30.4706 per dollar yesterday. The ruble was little changed at 39.0325 per euro and 34.1268 against the basket.
The yield on Russian Eurobonds due 2015 rose two basis points to 2.175 percent. Similar-maturity dollar-denominated notes from OAO Sberbank, the country’s largest lender, yielded two basis points less than yesterday at 3.384 percent, while the yield on 2015 Eurobonds issued by state gas monopoly OAO Gazprom dropped two basis points to 3.445 percent.
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