Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- The ruble appreciated for a fourth day against the dollar as Urals crude topped $117 a barrel, bolstering the outlook for the currency of the world’s biggest energy exporter.
The Russian currency added 1 percent to 29.8250 by the close in Moscow, its strongest since Oct. 28. The ruble was little changed at 39.3450 per euro and strengthened 0.5 percent to 34.1090 versus the central bank’s target dollar-euro basket.
Urals, Russia’s main export blend, headed for its strongest closing price since May, adding 1.4 percent to $117.86 a barrel and outweighing investor concern Europe’s debt crisis will drag on, hurting growth in Russia’s biggest trade partner. Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos plans to discuss the implementation of additional fiscal measures needed to secure a second European Union-led bailout with the nation’s political leaders today.
“It’s mainly driven by the oil price,” Carolin Hecht, a Frankfurt-based strategist at Commerzbank AG, said by e-mail. “If you look at how the oil price developed in recent days, you would actually have expected the ruble to appreciate a lot more than it has, so it’s most likely the central bank that is keeping its appreciation in check.”
Urals has gained 6.5 percent over the past week as a cold snap in Europe drove fuel demand, while the ruble has strengthened 1.7 percent against the basket over the same period. Bank Rossii buys and sells international currencies to manage the ruble within a floating corridor against the basket.
A level between 34.70 and 33.87 against the basket at the corridor’s current level indicates the regulator is buying $50 million to $150 million a day to slow the ruble’s appreciation, according to VTB Capital’s estimates.
“The central bank will keep intervening, and the ruble will have a hard time breaching the 34 mark” against the basket, Commerzbank’s Hecht said.
Investors pared bets the ruble would weaken, with non-deliverable forwards showing the Russian currency at 30.21 per dollar in three months, compared with expectations of 30.4085 yesterday. Russia’s 2020 dollar bonds rose, pushing the yield down five basis points, or 0.05 percentage point, to 4.277 percent.
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