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Ruble Gains Against Basket as Euro Falls, Oil Trades Above $117

The ruble strengthened against the central bank’s bi-currency basket as the euro weakened and oil advanced. Ruble bonds gained on the first day of direct foreign access to the local government debt market.

The Russian currency advanced 0.2 percent against Bank Rossii’s euro-dollar basket to 34.7826 by 7 p.m. in Moscow. The ruble weakened 0.1 percent against the dollar to 30.1330.

The euro dropped 0.7 percent against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said after policy makers met in Frankfurt that the risk to the region’s growth remains on the “downside.” Brent crude rose for a third day in London, exceeding $117 a barrel, helping the ruble gain against the basket.

“With the oil price like that the basket definitely should trade lower,” Alexander Myulberger, head of foreign exchange trading at BCS Financial Group in Moscow, said by e-mail.

A second day of gains in the government’s OFZ bonds maturing in February 2027 pushed down the yield three basis points to 7.05 percent, within 21 basis points of a record low on Jan. 10.

Euroclear Bank SA, which operates the world’s biggest bond settlement system, started direct settlement of ruble-denominated government debt, opening the $100 billion market to foreign investors. Over-the-counter transactions in OFZs will be followed by exchange-traded operations in March, it said in a statement yesterday.

While flows of “new money” into Russia’s domestic debt may reach as much as $20 billion this year, some investors were waiting for the Euroclear announcement to sell ruble bonds, Sberbank Investment Research analysts led by Alexander Kudrin said in an e-mailed note today.

“We expect this disposition to remain in the coming days and recommend buying OFZs only on strong sell-offs,” the analysts said today. It will take weeks or months for foreign inflows to OFZs to arrive, they said.

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