March 1 (Bloomberg) -- The ruble depreciated the most in two weeks as Russia’s monthly tax period ended and amid speculation the central bank is buying other currencies to stem the ruble’s gains.
The ruble lost 0.7 percent to 29.2705 per dollar at the 7 p.m. close in Moscow, its biggest fall since Feb. 16. The Russian currency was 0.4 percent stronger at 38.99 against the euro and was little changed at 33.6443 versus the central bank’s dollar-euro target basket.
The end of the tax period eased demand for rubles from exporters looking to convert revenue from abroad to pay the government. That reduced pressure on interbank rates and the three-month MosPrime rate banks say they charge to lend to each other dropped 24 basis points to 6.54 percent.
“At the end of the month banks needed more liquidity in rubles,” Sergey Fishgoyt, deputy head of foreign exchange at Otkritie Bank in Moscow, said by e-mail. “Don’t forget the central bank’s interventions, which are $250 million a day.”
Bank Rossii manages the ruble within a so-called “floating corridor” against a basket of dollars and euros to limit swings that erode exporters’ competitiveness. The central bank may be buying as much as $250 million a day in foreign currencies to slow the ruble’s advance after it passed 33.87 against the basket Feb. 24, according to VTB Capital’s estimates.
Non-deliverable forwards showed the Russian currency at 29.6302 per dollar in three months, compared with expectations of 29.679 per dollar yesterday. The yield on Russia’s $3.5 billion of bonds due 2020 dropped 11 basis points, or 0.11 percentage point, to 3.95 percent, the lowest since they first traded in April 2010.
The yield on dollar-denominated bonds due 2015 dropped 20 basis points to 2.337 percent. Eurobonds maturing the same year issued by OAO Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender, yielded 15 basis points less than yesterday at 3.567 percent, while the yield on similar-maturity bonds from state gas monopoly OAO Gazprom fell 17 basis points to 3.498 percent.
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