Ruble Set for Best Week in 16 Years as Russia Turns to Exporters

The ruble fell, trimming a weekly rally that drove the currency up the most since in 16 years as the government ordered Russian exporters to reduce their foreign-currency holdings to shore up confidence.

The ruble weakened 0.2 percent to 52.6600 a dollar by 12:28 p.m. in Moscow, bringing its advance in the past five days to 11 percent, the first weekly increase since the period ended Nov. 23. Government bonds gained, pushing the five-year yield lower for the first time in four days. The Micex Index (INDEXCF) of equities rose for a third day led by OAO Magnit, the nation’s biggest retailer, and natural gas producer OAO Gazprom.

Coordinated measures by Russia’s government and central bank have succeeded in driving a 52 percent rebound in the ruble since it slid to a record-low 80.10 on Dec. 16. Gazprom and four other state-controlled exporters were ordered this week to cut their foreign-currency holdings by March 1 to levels no higher than they were on Oct. 1, while the central bank sought to make it easier for banks to access dollars and euros.

“Exporters have to sell, and while volumes aren’t that large, it’s enough to move this thin market,” Iskander Abdullaev, analyst at Sberbank CIB, said in e-mailed comments. “I think there was an instruction to calm down the rate until the end of the year, so that retail clients don’t panic before holidays, and take off pressure from the ruble.”

Russian markets will close for an annual New Year’s holiday from Dec. 31 through Jan. 4 and for a Christmas holiday on Jan. 7. Average trading volume in the ruble for the first four days of the week was almost 30 percent below the 12-month average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.


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