Ruble near one-week high versus dollar ahead of Putin’s speech

February 20, 2019

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian ruble eased slightly in early trade on Wednesday but hovered close to a one-week peak ahead of an annual address to parliament by President Vladimir Putin.

At 1037 GMT the ruble was 0.1 percent down against the dollar at 65.83 after firming to 65.74 the day before, its strongest level since Feb. 13.

Putin’s televised address to parliament and other members of the Russian political elite is due to start at 0900 GMT. He is expected to touch upon a wide range on topics, both domestic and international, a day after data showed yet another drop in real disposable incomes among Russians.

Versus the euro, the ruble was down 0.1 percent at 74.67.

Russia’s Ministry of Finance is set to hold an auction for three OFZ treasury bonds. Demand for such bonds at weekly auctions is seen as a barometer of market sentiment toward Russian risks.

“The ruble has a reason to strengthen amid the OFZ placement, which has seen rather strong demand lately,” Otkritie brokerage said in a note.

Oil prices remained supportive for Russian assets as Brent crude oil was steady at $66.43 a barrel, near recent peaks.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was 0.8 percent higher at 1,183.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index rose 0.6 percent to 2,472.7 points.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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