The ruble sank the most in a month as speculation that the U.S. will scale back stimulus and violence in Syria will escalate fueled a sell-off in emerging-market currencies.
The ruble depreciated 0.4 percent to 38.2257 against the central bank’s euro-dollar basket by 6 p.m. in Moscow, heading for the steepest drop since July 26. The yield on the government’s ruble debt due February 2027 increased 10 basis points, or 0.1 percentage point, to 8.01 percent, the highest since June 26.
Currencies including India’s rupee and the Turkish lira declined after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday denounced an attack last week on a Damascus suburb as a “cowardly crime” requiring a response against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The Bloomberg U.S. Dollar Index approached the highest in three weeks on bets the U.S. economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to start curbing bond-buying.
“When there is a risk of war, people buy the dollar, yen, gold and U.S. Treasuries,” Anton Zakharov, a money manager at OAO Promsvyazbank in Moscow, said in e-mailed comments. “Other assets are sold.”
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Emerging-Markets Currencies index fell 0.8 percent to 87.31, extending a 0.9 percent drop yesterday. India’s rupee lost 2.9 percent to a record low against the dollar, the lira weakened 1.8 percent, while the South African rand depreciated 0.9 percent.
“It’a hard to imagine the ruble staying firm, when the peso, rand and rupee are falling by 1 to 2 percent every day,” Anton Nikitin, an analyst at VTB Capital said by e-mail.
The ruble weakened 0.3 percent against the dollar to 33.1795 and 0.5 percent against the euro to 44.4000. Brent oil gained 2.4 percent to $113.39 per barrel.
“The ruble doesn’t want to react to oil,” Nikitin said. There is a 1-1.5 month lag between the oil price gain and the point at which companies convert their earnings into rubles for taxes, he said.
Russia had a current-account surplus of $25.1 billion in the first quarter and $6.9 billion in the second, which is “fundamentally different” from Asian countries’ deficits, OAO Rosbank analysts led by Vladimir Kolychev said in an e-mailed note.
With oil trading around $111 per barrel, “the ruble’s prospects don’t look that pessimistic,” they said.