Russian rouble weakens towards 74 vs dollar

MOSCOW, Aug 20 (Reuters) – The Russian rouble weakened in light trade on Thursday along with some other emerging market currencies as players watched the political crisis in Belarus and the suspected poisoning of a Russian opposition activist.

At 0800 GMT, the rouble was 0.7% weaker against the dollar at 73.83, staying in a tight range between 72.5 and slightly above 74 since early August.

“Given a visible decline in risk appetite we expect pressure on the rouble to resume today, with the dollar-rouble pair moving towards the 74 mark,” Promsvyazbank said in a note.

Against the euro, the rouble lost 0.9% to trade at 87.51 .

Global markets came under pressure after the U.S. Federal Reserve said uncertainty was weighing on the world’s largest economy, sending a less dovish than expected signal on its monetary policy.

Yields on Russian OFZ government bonds, which move inversely with their prices, inched lower this week, which Otkritie brokerage said suggested investors were returning after a sell-off in July and early August.

On the news front, opposition politician Alexei Navalny, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, was in the spotlight as he was in a coma in a Siberian hospital after drinking a cup of tea that his spokeswoman said she believed was laced with poison.

In Belarus, street protests continued late on Wednesday, as the European Union rejected Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election in a disputed vote on Aug. 9 and announced financial sanctions against officials the bloc blames for election fraud and the abuse of protesters.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.6% at $45.11 a barrel, putting pressure on Russian stock indexes.

The dollar-denominated RTS index fell 2.2% to 1,287.8 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1.2%/lower at 3,021.4 points.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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