Ruble Gains on Fed as Tax Date Nears While Minister Sees Risks

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The ruble gained to a two-week high, spurred by the dimmer outlook for U.S. interest rates as a Russian tax-payment deadline neared.

Russia’s currency added 0.3 percent to 53.458 per dollar by 6:11 p.m. in Moscow, as most emerging-market peers climbed after U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said she expects only gradual increases in borrowing costs. The ruble also rose as oil, the nation’s main exporter earner, rallied toward $65 a barrel in London. Russian bonds ended a five-day rout.

The ruble is trading at a fair value and may weaken by 2 to 3 rubles against the dollar in the fall as foreign-debt payments come due, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev told Bloomberg TV at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday. In the shorter term, 543 billion rubles ($10 billion) of corporate tax payments on June 25 may shore up demand, according to Sberbank CIB estimates.

“The rather dovish outcome” of the Fed meeting “is a fillip to risk sentiment and high-yielding currencies like the ruble,” Tom Levinson, the chief strategist for foreign currency and interest rates at Sberbank CIB, said by e-mail. “Ahead of next week’s tax period in Russia, should major exporters fret that better levels to sell the dollar-ruble pair are ebbing, they might become more active.”

Assets of the world’s largest energy exporter have come under pressure since mid-May as the central bank and Finance Ministry bought foreign currencies in moves analysts said aimed at trimming the world’s biggest appreciation of 2015.

Bonds Gain

Sentiment toward the ruble -- which has fallen 8 percent since the central bank purchases began -- reversed this week after policy makers signaled the pace of rate cuts will slow to counter inflation risks.

Yields on five-year government bonds have climbed 18 basis points since the June 15 rate decision. They fell seven basis points to 11.17 percent today.

The St. Petersburg forum is an annual event showcasing Russia as a destination for foreign investment. It opened on Thursday as European Union governments struck a preliminary accord to extend sanctions against Russia by six months to the end of January, according to two EU officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

The ruble remains 33 percent weaker since Russia’s incursion into Crimea started in March of last year, prompting the standoff that led the EU and U.S. to impose penalties.

President Vladimir Putin said Russia finds the current oil price and currency rate acceptable, and that excessive ruble depreciation is negative for the economy.

The Micex stock index decreased 0.3 percent as OAO GMK Norilsk Nickel fell 1 percent. Just over half of the measure’s 50 shares are trading above their 50-day moving average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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