Published on 13/03/2017 2:55:36 PM | Source: Reuters

Rouble resilient to lower oil prices, market eyes rate outlook

MOSCOW - The Russian rouble was steady in early trade on Monday, showing strong resilience to the latest wave of declines in prices for crude, Russia's key exports.

At 0842 GMT, the rouble was 0.05 percent weaker against the dollar at 59.03 and had gained 0.03 percent to trade at 63.06 versus the euro.

The rouble came under pressure from falling oil prices in the past few days.

Since March 7, when a sell-off on the commodities market began, Brent crude futures have lost 8.1 percent to trade at $51.4 per barrel on Monday. In the same period, the rouble has lost just 1.5 percent against the dollar.

The resilient nature of the rouble brings the central bank's monetary policy into the market's focus.

"We will carefully watch the speeches of first deputy governors Sergei Shvetsov and Dmitri Tulin today and CBR Governor Elvira Nabiullina on Thursday for any indications that a rate cut this month is under serious consideration," analysts at Sberbank CIB said in a note.

The Russian currency enjoys relatively high interest rates at home. The central bank's tight policy attracts foreign investors and inflows into rouble instruments as the Bank of Russia key rate stands at 10 percent, far above annual inflation that is on track to reach the 4 percent target anytime soon.

Expectations that the U.S. Federal reserve could raise rates next week are already priced in, so the rouble is likely to be driven by future changes in oil prices, ING bank said in a note.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.67 percent to 1,063.1 points, while the rouble-based MICEX climbed 0.84 percent higher to 1,990.4 points.

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(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Toby Chopra)