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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ruble Firms Up to 21.45

The ruble firmed Thursday for the third day in a row, but dealers insisted the currency's gains could not continue much longer.

"There is just no reason why the ruble is continuing to rise against the dollar," said one Russian dealer. "Nothing politically or economically is taking place to account for it."

The Central Bank set its official rate for Friday at 21.45 to the dollar, the average rate in the closed morning trading session on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange. Thursday's official rate, set Wednesday, is 21.80.

The ruble has steadily climbed in official trade since Monday, when the currency hit 23.06, its weakest level since its effective devaluation on Aug. 17.

Some said the currency's strength could be tied to Central Bank attempts to supportthe ruble to meet the 21.5 to the dollar rate called for in the government's 1999 draft budget.

Dealers said it was unlikely that the Central Bank was spending precious hard currency to defend the ruble.

Meanwhile, the Central Bank announced Thursday that the nation's foreign reserves had dropped by $200 million to $12 billion in the week ending Jan. 8.

The reserves have been sliding steadily for the past two months as Russia made payments on foreign loans and sought to meets domestic debt obligations. The state gave up using the reserves to defend the ruble after losing several billion dollars trying to do so in July and August.