Russian rouble hovers near 5-year highs vs euro, stocks up

A view shows Russian ruble coins in this illustration picture taken March 25, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Illustration

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May 16 (Reuters) – The Russian ruble firmed past 64 per dollar on Monday and climbed towards its highest in nearly five years against the euro, supported by continuing restrictions on currency trading.

The ruble is the world’s best-performing currency this year, although this is due to artificial support from capital controls that Russia imposed to shield its financial sector in late February after sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

It was not clear whether President Vladimir Putin’s demand for gas payments in rubles was also supporting the currency.

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At 1131 GMT, the ruble was 2% stronger against the dollar at 63.21 , hovering near its strongest mark since early February 2020 of 62.6250, which it hit on Friday. read more

“The current capital control measures brought the ruble back to pre-pandemic levels,” Rosbank analysts said in a note, forecasting that the ruble would slide to 90 to the dollar by year-end.

“In the near future, a new committee on FX market regulation may adjust these restrictions, but until then, the USD/RUB consolidation may stick to the lower bound of the 63.0-70.0 range.”

Against the euro, the pink ruble 2.3% to 65.60 , staying near its strongest level since June 2017 of 64.9425, which it touched on the Moscow Exchange on Friday.

Moscow’s standoff with the West and fears of a new sanctions package to punish Russia for what it calls “a special military operation” in Ukraine are in focus. But their impact is cushioned by mandatory conversion of foreign currency by export-focused companies and by other restrictions.

“The ruble firming today may be moderate but the dollar rate could gradually decline to 62,” Promsvyazbank analysts said in a note.

Russian stock indexes jumped higher.

The dollar-denominated RTS index (.IRTS) was up 4.2% at 1,180.1 points. The ruble-based MOEX Russian index (.IMOEX) rose 2.7% to 2,368.6 points.

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Reporting by Reuters

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