Central Bank to Trade on Forex Markets

The Central Bank said Wednesday that it would buy and sell on the foreign exchange market like any other trader to deter speculators from trying to push up the value of the ruble.

Traders have been betting the ruble will appreciate as the country tries to contain accelerating inflation. Until recently, the Central Bank has used its currency reserves to keep the ruble pegged against a basket of dollars and euros at a lower level to help the country's exporters.

"Lots of people have put money back on the ruble trade lately, and they're trying to shake those people out," said Clemens Graf, chief economist in Moscow at UBS. "If you introduce volatility into the ruble, then people will have to think twice before putting a long position on the ruble."

The ruble slipped 0.3 percent to 29.76 versus the basket by 6:22 p.m. in Moscow. It lost 0.3 percent to 23.9 per dollar, and dropped by the same amount to 36.94 per euro. Until Tuesday, when it slid 0.2 percent, the ruble had remained little changed, at around 29.61 against the basket since the beginning of March.

The Central Bank "changed the order of currency interventions," it said in a statement Wednesday. "In addition to the operations of the [Central Bank] on the domestic foreign-exchange market to limit fluctuations in the value of the basket, the bank has begun regular interventions, the amounts to be determined by taking into account the conditions of the domestic currency market."

The measure is also aimed at preparing the country for an inflation-targeting regime and a free-floating currency, the statement said.