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Bonds, Ruble Little Changed Before First Auction in Three Weeks

Russian government bonds were little changed before the first debt auction in three weeks as Ukraine resumed operations against militants in eastern cities.

The yield on ruble-denominated debt due February 2027 rose 1 basis point to 9.11 percent. The ruble traded little changed at 41.8198 against the central bank’s target basket of dollars and euros by 11:45 a.m. in Moscow.

The Finance Ministry will offer 10 billion rubles ($280 million) each of bonds due August 2023 and May 2019 today after sitting out the last two weeks because of market conditions, according to a website statement yesterday. Ukraine’s government moved against separatists in eastern regions, deputy prime-minister Vitali Yarema told reporters in Kiev.

“Investors are watching very attentively how the auctions go to see if there is real demand,” Fedor Bizikov, a money manager at GHP Group in Moscow, said in e-mailed comments. “At the same time, the Ukraine factor is still in the air and it won’t let any rally develop.”

The yield on benchmark government debt climbed 53 basis points in March, the biggest monthly increase since May, as Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region, prompting the U.S. and European Union to impose sanctions. The yield tumbled 17 basis points on April 18 after an international agreement in Geneva that aimed to de-escalate the crisis.

Russian companies are set to pay as much as 485 billion rubles in taxes this week, including as much as 240 billion rubles in mineral extraction levies, potentially boosting demand for the local currency.

The ruble is the second-worst performer this year among 24 developing-country currencies monitored by Bloomberg, having declined 7.9 percent against the dollar. It was little changed versus the greenback at 35.6963 and 0.1 percent weaker against the euro at 49.3074.

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