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Ruble Strengthens First Time in Three Days as Oil Prices Rise

The ruble strengthened for the first time in three days against the Russian central bank’s target basket as oil, Russia’s biggest export, advanced.

The currency appreciated 0.1 percent versus the dollar-euro basket to 34.8882 by 7 p.m. in Moscow. It was 0.2 percent higher at 30.6800 relative to the dollar. Yields on benchmark government ruble bonds due February 2027 added two basis points, or 0.02 percentage point, to 7.23 percent.

Crude oil futures jumped 0.7 percent to $110.83 a barrel in London, increasing for the first time in six days. Oil and natural gas exports contribute about 50 percent of Russia’s government revenue. Emerging-market currencies and stocks gained as China maintained its economic growth target and investors speculated exporters will get a boost from U.S. monetary stimulus.

The Russian currency is mainly supported by a surplus in the current account, provided by a relatively high oil price and moderate growth in imports, ZAO Raiffeisenbank analysts led by Denis Poryvay said in a note to clients, adding they expect minimal fluctuations in the ruble rate in March.

The ruble’s performance in 2013 remains strong compared to developing-nation peers, and if oil prices don’t provide support, “we might see ruble catching other emerging-market currencies,” VTB Capital analysts Maxim Korovin and Anton Nikitin said in a note to clients.

The VTB analysts said the ruble’s depreciation to below 35.00 per basket is possible before tax flows materialize at the end of March.

Russian companies will pay about 950 billion rubles ($31.7 billion) during a tax period from March 15 to March 28, according to estimates of Alexander Morozov, chief economist at HSBC Plc’ Russian subsidiary, published in a March 4 report.

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