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Russian rouble eases, stocks up on talk of new sanctions

The Russian rouble eased in early trade on Monday, heading away from a near five-week high against the dollar it touched last Friday, while the MOEX benchmark stock index climbed higher to levels seen before Russia sent thousands of troops into Ukraine.

The market was eyeing developments around what Russia calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine that started on Feb. 24, as well as risks of new western sanctions against Moscow on top of unprecedented penalties already imposed.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that a new round of sanctions targeting Russia was needed.

At 0707 GMT, the rouble eased 0.2% against the dollar at 84.10, moving away from its strongest level since Feb. 23 of 80.3325 it hit on Friday.

To the euro, the rouble added 0.2% to trade at 92.83 , away from an all-time high of nearly 132.42 it reached in Moscow trade on March 10.

In recent weeks, the rouble got a boost from capital controls as well as from President Vladimir Putin’s demand that European consumers of Russian natural gas pay for it in roubles.

But Europe vowed to stay united against Moscow’s demand that they pay for its gas in roubles, as the threat of an imminent supply halt eased.

The rouble is expected to stay within a range of 80-90 to the dollar in the next two weeks, Promsvyazbank analysts said in a note. The market was also scrutinising Russia’s ability to keep on servicing its foreign debt.

On Monday, Russia is due to pay $552 million on maturing 2022 Eurobond and $84 million in a coupon payout on 2042 Eurobond.

On the stock market, jittery trading continued and nearly all blue chips were in the black after the market reopened last week following a near month-long hiatus.

The dollar-denominated RTS index rose 2.2% to 1,053.2 points.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 2.1% up at 2,818.2 points, its highest level since Feb. 22.

Shares in Russia’s second-largest sanctioned lender VTB outperformed the market by gaining 7.6% on the day.

Its peer, No. 1 lender Sberbank, was up 5%.

 

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