Russian ruble close to seven-week low vs dollar in early trade

The ruble slumped to a near seven-week low against the dollar in early trade on Monday, having now lost support of a favorable month-end tax period and remaining under pressure from Russia’s shrinking current account surplus.

The Russian currency tumbled past 100 to the dollar in mid-August, forcing the central bank into an emergency 350-basis-point rate hike and leading authorities to discuss the possibility of reintroducing controls to buttress the currency.

At 0611 GMT, the ruble was 0.5 percent weaker against the dollar at 98.41, earlier hitting 98.7125, its weakest point since Aug. 15.

It had lost 0.6 percent to trade at 103.99 versus the euro and shed 0.1 percent against the yuan to 13.51.

“Along with government debt, pressure has increased on the ruble, which this week is likely to again storm the 100 marks to the dollar, and if it sticks around that, then another wave of accelerating price growth could follow,” said CentroCreditBank economist Evgeny Suvorov.

“The central bank needs to move the rate to 15 percent, but there are still four weeks before the board of directors (meeting). And panic in the market can start at any moment…”

Stubborn inflationary pressure will force Russia’s central bank into at least one more rate hike this year, a Reuters poll showed last week, while persistent ruble weakness is among the factors limiting Russia’s long-term growth prospects.

Analysts expect the central bank to hike rates to 14 percent at its Oct. 27 meeting and for double-digit rates to remain until 2025.

The ruble has charted a turbulent course since Russia invaded Ukraine, slumping to a record low of 120 against the dollar in March last year before recovering to a more than seven-year high a few months later, supported by capital controls and surging export revenues.

The ruble has now lost support of month-end tax payments that usually see exporters convert foreign currency revenues to pay local liabilities.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.3 percent at $92.46 a barrel.

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