Ruble Weakens First Time in Three Days as Trade Surplus Narrows

The ruble weakened for the first time in three days against the central bank’s target currency basket as Russia’s trade surplus narrowed.

The ruble weakened less than 0.1 percent against the dollar-euro basket to 34.7408 by 7 p.m. in Moscow. It was little changed against the dollar at 30.1765.

Export volumes, the main source of foreign currency in Russia, declined 5.4 percent in December, while imports rose 2.4 percent compared with a year earlier, central bank data showed. Bank Rossii will hold the refinancing rate at 8.25 percent for a fifth month at tomorrow’s meeting in Moscow, according to a Bloomberg survey. Oil, Russia’s biggest export, slid 1 percent in London trading to $117.70 per barrel.

“Such weakness in late 2012 could be one of the reasons for the ruble’s disappointing performance in early 2013,” Vladimir Osakovskiy, chief economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Moscow, said by e-mail. “Further ruble appreciation is ensured not just by high, but rather growing oil prices.”

Yields on bonds due in February 2027 fell one basis point to 7.01 percent.

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