Reserves Falling as Ruble Holds Steady

ReutersTraders sitting at their terminals at Alfa Bank in Moscow on Thursday. Stocks trading is set to resume on Friday.
The ruble was little changed Thursday against a dollar-euro basket amid speculation that the Central Bank sold reserves to support the currency.

The value of the nation's foreign currency reserves declined by $13.3 billion to $560.30 billion in the week ending Tuesday, the lowest level in three months, after falling $8.9 billion in the previous week, the Central Bank said in an e-mailed statement.

"The ruble is stable at the weak end of the band" because the Central Bank has used reserves to ensure the currency does not fall through 30.40 against the basket, said Martin Blum, the head of emerging-markets economics and strategy at UniCredit MIB in Vienna.

The Central Bank has a policy of not commenting on its day-to-day activities in the market.

The currency was at 30.39 versus the basket by 7:37 p.m. in Moscow, the same level as Wednesday. The ruble rose to 25.39 per dollar, from 25.44, and fell 0.2 percent to 36.51 per euro. The Central Bank keeps the currency within a trading band against the basket to limit the effect of its fluctuations on the competitiveness of Russian exports.

"We do not expect the ruble to weaken further from here," Lars T. Rasmussen, an analyst in Copenhagen at Danske Bank, wrote in a note, referring to the 30.40 level. "The Central Bank controls the third-largest foreign-exchange reserves in the world, which it can use to defend the ruble against its dual currency basket."

The ruble was near a 1 1/2-week low versus the basket as the Finance Ministry on Wednesday pumped $44 billion into the three largest banks and halted stock trading a second day.