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Russia Retreats From Ruble Defense in Surprise Interest-Rate Cut

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Russia Unexpectedly Cuts Key Rate, Ruble Weakens

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Russia unexpectedly backed away from its efforts to prop up the ruble, cutting interest rates just weeks after taking them to an 11-year high and signaling policy makers are now focused on mitigating an economic slump that threatens to destabilize the financial system.

The central bank lowered its benchmark rate to 15 percent from 17 percent, spurring a wave of ruble selling that drove it down as much as 4 percent against the dollar to levels not seen since panic swept across Moscow’s financial markets last month. The interest-rate cut surprised all but one of the 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.