By Jake Cordell
(Reuters) – The Russian rouble started the first full trading day of the new year on the front foot, advancing by more than 3% against the U.S. dollar to rebound from six-month lows hit in volatile trading at the end of 2022.
At 1005 GMT on Monday, the rouble had passed through the 70-mark against the U.S. dollar, trading up 3.4% at 69.68. The currency was also up 1.9% against the euro to 74.77, and was 2.2% stronger against the Chinese yuan, trading at 10.23 in Moscow.
Having spent long periods of last year as the world’s best-performing currency, the Russian rouble lost 17% in December following Western moves to introduce a price cap and an EU embargo on Russian oil exports.
“Before New Year there was clearly a tendency to reduce exposure to stocks and a rush to the dollar,” said Alor Broker analysts in a research note on Monday.
“In the coming days, if the geopolitical background does not interfere, there should be a reversal of those trends … major exporters should start selling foreign exchange earnings accumulated over the holidays and investors should start to sell-down dollars bought for protection,” they added.
Russian markets saw record low trading volumes during extended start-of-year holidays in the first week of January, partly due to the exodus of Western institutional investors from the Russian markets last year.
The rouble and stocks saw little change amid the low liquidity – with the large corporates that power Russia’s FX markets and the retail investors that are increasingly the drivers of the stock market away from their desks.
On Monday, Russian stocks followed the rouble higher. The dollar-denominated RTS index jumped 3.9% to 979.1 points – largely on the currency effect – while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index advanced 0.4% to 2,164.6 points.
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(Reporting by Jake Cordell; Editing by Alex Richardson)