MOSCOW, May 5 — The Russian rouble briefly reached its highest level against the US dollar since March 2020 today, supported by capital controls, while stock indexes also climbed as the market watched developments around possible new sanctions against Moscow.
The volatile currency hit a high of 65.31 per dollar in early trading on the Moscow Exchange but by 0716 GMT was at 66.60, which was 0.4 per cent lower than its yesterday closing level.
The morning peak level had not been seen since the onset of Covid-19 pandemic.
The rouble has rallied in the past few weeks thanks to mandatory conversion of foreign currency by export-focused companies. Also, there has been weak demand for dollars and euros amid waning imports and restrictions on cross-border transactions.
Moves in the rouble are sharper than usual as market liquidity has been thinned by central bank restrictions designed to prop up financial stability after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Against the euro, the rouble was 0.3 per cent stronger at 70.20 , hovering at levels last seen in February 2020.
Proposals for new sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo, were in focus as the West sought to deepen Moscow’s isolation. Read full story
The rouble showed little reaction to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to raise its benchmark overnight interest rate by half a percentage point, the biggest jump in 22 years. Read full story
Direct impact of U.S. monetary policy on the Russian market was distorted by sanctions and restrictions on investment, said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at LockoInvest. But Russia would still feel the effects through global inflation and commodity prices.
Russian stock indexes were up. The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS rose 2.6 per cent to 1,142.7 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 1.4 per cent higher at 2,406.5 points.
“Thanks to an improved external backdrop, the Russian stock market can try to recover yesterday’s losses if there is no news about new sanctions,” Promsvyazbank analysts said, adding that the MOEX could top 2,450 during the day. — Reuters