By Alexander Marrow
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The rouble leapt to a more than six-week high against the dollar on Friday after the Bank of Russia hiked interest rates by more than expected to 15% before paring gains, with the currency also buttressed by exporters’ increased foreign currency sales.
The central bank raised its key interest rate by 200 basis points, more than the 100-basis-point raise forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll, hiking borrowing costs for the fourth meeting running in response to the weak rouble, stubborn inflation pressure and increasing budget spending.
By 1417 GMT, the rouble was 0.4% stronger against the dollar at 93.57 , earlier reaching 92.5100, its strongest point since Sept. 12.
It had gained 0.5% to trade at 99.09 versus the euro and firmed 0.3% against the yuan to 12.74 .
“Today’s decision … will have a moderately positive impact on the rouble in the coming days,” said Mikhail Vasilyev, chief analyst at Sovcombank, as it will reduce consumer and investment demand, including for imports, as well as raising the attractiveness of rouble savings.
“We expect that by the end of the year the rouble exchange rate will be trading in the range of 94-98 per dollar, 99-104 per euro and 12.8-13.4 per yuan,” Vasilyev said.
Households’ inflationary expectations dropped marginally in October to 11.2%, data showed this week, but not significantly enough to impact the central bank’s thinking and they remain well above the 4% target, said CentroCreditBank economist Yevgeny Suvorov.
“Inflation expectations remain at a historically high level,” Suvorov said, and suggested that rates could be raised to 16% at the bank’s next meeting on Dec. 15.
Month-end tax payments, due on Oct. 30, which usually see exporters convert foreign exchange (FX) revenue to pay domestic liabilities, have supported the rouble in recent days.
Additionally, President Vladimir Putin’s decree on mandatory FX sales came into force last week, requiring 43 groups of exporters to repatriate 80% of FX revenue and then sell 90% of that sum.
The rouble has strengthened from beyond 100 to the dollar since the decree was announced.
Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina on Friday repeated her doubts about those controls.
“The specific impact of currency restrictions on the dynamics of the exchange rate will be insignificant in our opinion,” she said. “If there is, it will be in a short period of time.”
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.8% at $88.61 a barrel.
Russian stock indexes were lower.
The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.1% to 1,083.6 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.1% lower at 3,219.4 points.
(Reporting by Reuters in Moscow and Alexander Marrow in London; Editing by Mark Potter, Christopher Cushing, Deborah Kyvrikosaios and Gareth Jones)