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Ruble Strengthens for Second Day Versus Dollar as Oil Advances

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Jan. 17 (Bloomberg) -- The ruble climbed for a second day against the dollar as the price of oil, Russia’s main export, rallied after U.S. data bolstered optimism in the world’s largest economy.

The ruble added 0.4 percent to 30.19 against the dollar, and retreated 0.2 percent to 40.3825 versus the euro by 11:50 p.m. in Moscow. The currency of the world’s biggest energy exporter added 0.1 percent 34.7791 against the dollar-euro basket the central bank targets to smooth exchange-rate moves that crimp exporter competitiveness.

Oil surged to a four-month high in New York, gaining as much as 1.9 percent to $96.04 a barrel as American housing starts jumped and jobless claims fell more than forecast. While Russian central banker Alexei Ulyukayev warned yesterday that leading economies are on the brink of a “currency war,” the regulator bought 15.3 billion rubles ($506 million) of foreign currency at the start of 2013 to weaken the ruble after it jumped the most in four months on Jan. 9, the first day of trading.

“The central bank covered the demand for rubles with its interventions so it began to slow down,” Dmitry Dudkin head of fixed-income research at UralSib Financial Corp. in Moscow said by e-mail.

Ruble futures showed the currency strengthening 0.3 percent to 30.484 per dollar after dropping 0.3 percent to 30.579 yesterday.

The currency trades 13 kopeks weaker than the 34.65 level against the basket at which policy makers intervene to curb its gains, according to Ivan Sinelnikov, an analyst at OAO Gazprombank.

The extra yield investors demand to own Russia’s dollar bonds over U.S. Treasuries fell five basis points to 157, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index. An index of five-year government yields fell three basis points to 6.3968 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anatoly Temkin in St. Petersburg at atemkin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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