Russian rouble falls with capital control measures in focus

Russian rouble falls with capital control measures in focus © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows Russian rouble banknotes of various denominations on a table in Warsaw, Poland, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

(Reuters) – The Russian rouble weakened on Thursday, driven by expectations that Russia may relax its temporary capital control measures further, while stocks fell as the country continued what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine.

The Russian central bank is considering easing requirements for mandatory foreign currency revenue sales by export-focused companies, business daily Vedomosti reported, citing a central bank official.

Currently, Russian exporters are obliged to sell 80% of their forex revenues in the first three days after receiving it under a rule established by President Vladimir Putin in late-February to limit rouble’s volatility amid western sanctions.

At 0739 GMT, the rouble fell 2% to 81.50, heading away from its strongest level since Nov. 11 of 71 it hit last week.

Against the euro, the rouble shed around 2.5% to 88.55 after briefly sliding beyond the 90 mark.

The rouble eased this week after the central bank scrapped a 12% commission for buying foreign currency through brokerages and promised to lift a temporary ban on selling foreign exchange cash to individuals from April 18.

But the rouble retains support from export-focused companies that are still obliged to sell their forex revenues on the domestic market.

The dollar-rouble pair is expected to stay within a range of 79-81 to the dollar, Promsvyazbank said.

Russian actions in Ukraine remained in focus, along with a risk of new Western sanctions and expectations that the economy is heading for its sharpest contraction since 1994.

Inflation has already accelerated to its highest since February 2002, reaching 17.5% in annual terms as of April 8.

Russian stock indexes were down.

The dollar-denominated RTS index slid 3.2% to 965 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1.2% lower at 2,497.8 points.

Source: Reuters