Hryvnia Weakens for Fifth Week as Ukraine Bonds Drop on Gas RowAndras Gergely
The hryvnia capped a fifth week of losses and Ukraine’s Eurobonds slid as a row over Russian gas shipments heightened tensions provoked by unrest in the country’s east.
The currency fell to a record low of 13.61 per dollar and traded at 12.71 by 6:04 p.m. in Kiev, for a slump of 8.7 percent this week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The yield on dollar bonds maturing in 2023 rose seven basis points to 9.49 percent, extending a five-day jump to 83 basis points.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who annexed Crimea and deployed thousands of troops along the Ukrainian border, threatened yesterday to halt gas shipments to the country. The crisis is dominating the agenda for finance chiefs gathering for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which start in Washington today.
“There is endless pressure on the hryvnia,” Lutz Karpowitz, a Frankfurt-based strategist at Commerzbank AG, wrote in an e-mailed report today. “The reasons behind the development are once again the tensions with Russia, not just the fragile geopolitical situation but also the question of gas imports.”
The hryvnia has lost 35 percent in 2014, heading for the worst year since 2008, when the country also needed an IMF bailout and was struggling to raise dollars to pay for Russian gas.
The currency may still perform better than that year as external demand for exports is less constrained and IMF aid is still forthcoming, Alina Slyusarchuk, a London-based analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote in an e-mailed report today.
The IMF is looking to provide Ukraine with $14 billion to $18 billion of financial aid. Managing Director Christine Lagarde told Bloomberg Television’s Tom Keene yesterday she has “overwhelming support” from her membership for the steps the lender is taking.
Ukraine will probably receive $7 billion in IMF financing this year, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said. The country is also seeking further funding from Group of Seven countries, he said an interview in Washington yesterday. Of the group’s members, Canada has pledged $200 million and the U.S. has also responded, he said.
“Ukraine totally depends on international support,” Commerzbank’s Karpowitz wrote. “The fact that the hryvnia continues to ease, even though the EU and the IMF have already announced far-reaching support measures, illustrates that the end of the line has not yet been reached.”
Ukraine’s $1 billion note maturing in June traded at 97.45 cents on the dollar, compared with 98.04 at the end of last week.
The nation’s acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk wants to give greater powers to the regions and resolve the crisis gripping the country, he told reporters today in the city of Donetsk, where pro-Russian protesters have seized the local government headquarters.
“We see scope for the hryvnia to strengthen once IMF and donor funding arrives and in particular if there is progress in resolving political tensions domestically and with Russia,” Morgan Stanley’s Slyusarchuk wrote.