MOSCOW: The Russian rouble firmed on Thursday in response to oil prices which a day earlier went above $55 per barrel for the first time since April, while equity markets fell in anticipation of a likely interest rate cut later this week. At 0740 GMT, the rouble was 0.28 percent stronger against the dollar at 57.8 and had gained 0.25 percent to trade at 68.72 versus the euro.
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.16 percent at $55.08 a barrel. But prices have been generally on an upward path, and are nearly $10 higher than the year-low in June. Twenty of the 23 analysts and economists polled by Reuters said they expected the central bank to lower the key interest rate by 50 basis points .. The central bank could on Friday also shed light on its draft guidelines, including a nuanced definition of the inflation target, analysts at VTB Capital said in a note. “The 4% (target) will not change, but the central bank might explicitly outline the horizon for returning to the target after departures, and could specify tolerance bands,” the analysts said. Russian share indexes were down. The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.13 percent to 1,117 points, after it reached five-month highs the day before, while the rouble-based MICEX was 0.25 percent lower at 2,049 points. “Investors appear to have moved to book profits after the summer rally in Russian stocks ahead of tomorrow’s central bank interest rate meeting,” analysts at Alfa bank said in a note.