Russian rouble settles near 61 vs dollar after volatile week of trade

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian rouble slipped back past the 61 level against the dollar on Monday, after volatile swings in recent sessions, as the market continued to wait for updates on currency interventions.

The rouble is down around 18% from the more than seven-year highs hit in late June, having dropped sharply after several officials voiced concerns about its strength, which dents Russia’s income from exporting commodities and other goods priced in dollars and euros.

At 0735 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% weaker against the dollar at 61.12 and had gained 0.9% to trade at 61.82 versus the euro.

“The rouble will likely ignore all existing negativity and continue to rise gently,” said Alor Broker in a note.

The rouble is the world’s best-performing currency so far this year, boosted by measures – including restrictions on Russian households withdrawing foreign currency savings – taken to shield Russia’s financial system from Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The currency has also benefited from soaring proceeds from commodity exports and a sharp drop in imports.

Analysts have said there is little difference between 50 and 60 roubles to the dollar in terms of how critical it is for the budget. Officials prefer a rate of 70-80, they have said.

“(The rouble) may return to 55 to the dollar ahead of quarterly taxes and dividend payments,” said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko-Invest.

“We also doubt that the recovery of imports and fall of exports will be significant enough in July to strongly affect the rouble.”

Russian stock indexes fell on Monday.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.8% at 1,136.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.8% lower at 2,205.8 points.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)