Ruble Weakens to Two-Month Low to Basket as Crude Declines

March 4 (Bloomberg) -- The ruble weakened to a two-month low against the central bank’s target basket of dollars and euros after oil fell and demand declined for the currency as tax-payment period ended.

The ruble dropped 0.2 percent against the dollar-euro basket to 34.9300 by 7 p.m. in Moscow, the lowest since Dec. 26. The currency weakened 0.2 percent to 30.7675 against the dollar. The yield on benchmark government ruble bonds due February 2027 advanced two basis points to 7.23 percent.

Crude oil futures fell 0.2 percent to $90.54 a barrel in New York, retreating for a third day after a report showed service industries in China, the second-biggest oil user, expanded at the slowest pace in five months in February.

“Correction on commodities markets will likely cause a further ruble decline,” OAO Rosbank analysts led by Vladimir Kolychev in Moscow said in a note to clients today.

The monthly tax payment period, when exporters sell hard currency revenue to buy rubles, ended Feb. 28.

The ruble has a “good chance” of outperforming other emerging-market currencies by the end of the first quarter because of a seasonally strong current account and the March tax period will be heavier than in January and February, Maxim Korovin and Anton Nikitin, analysts at VTB Capital in Moscow, wrote in a note to clients today.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vladimir Kuznetsov in Moscow at vkuznetsov2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Wojciech Moskwa at wmoskwa@bloomberg.net