Rouble eases amid pandemic uncertainty, helped by recovering oil prices

MOSCOW, Oct 27 (Reuters) – The Russian rouble weakened slightly on Tuesday amid global uncertainty surrounding the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic and ahead of the Nov. 3 U.S. presidential election.

At 0728 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% weaker against the dollar at 76.54 and had lost 0.2% to trade at 90.45 versus the euro.

“Fluctuations remain moderate by current standards,” said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, adding the rouble would likely stay in a 76.00-76.60 range against the dollar on Tuesday.

Rising numbers of coronavirus infections around the world remain in focus as they are leading to increased restrictions, potentially derailing a global economic recovery.

Russia has said it will not impose strict lockdowns despite a record high daily increase in the number of coronavirus cases. From Tuesday, it ordered bars and restaurants to close overnight to try to contain the spread.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.5% at $40.67 a barrel, recovering ground after a sharp drop in the previous trading session.

The rouble weathered that storm well thanks to two domestic factors – foreign currency sales by the central bank and a monthly tax-payments period that boosts demand for roubles – said Andrei Kochetkov, an Otkritie Brokerage analyst.

Russia’s central bank promised to increase its daily selling of foreign currency to the equivalent of 9.8 billion roubles ($128.5 million) from Monday, according to Reuters calculations.

The bank, which reports its foreign currency sales with a two-day lag, said it had sold 8.6 billion roubles worth of forex last Friday.

Russian stock indexes were mixed.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.4% to 1,147.5 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was flat at 2,786.0 points.

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