Yesterday, RUB gained 1.8% against USD, while Brent slipped to USD 53.22/bbl (-1.1%). Thus, USDRUB closed at 57.70, having touched 57.50 in the afternoon. The MICEX reported decent turnover of USD 4.5bn, as exporters were actively selling ahead of the VAT and MET payments due today. The next key tax date is 30 March, when companies pay corporate profit tax. In the EM FX universe, KRW and ZAR were the top performers, firming 0.9% against USD, while TRY weakened 0.4%, so the EM FX index strengthened a modest 0.1%. Commodity-based currencies were resilient yesterday, as AUD and NZD closed unchanged, while NOK rose 0.2%. On a YTD basis, RUB is one of the strongest currencies in EM FX: it is now trading flat to the levels at the start of the year, having fully pared its losses against USD in 1Q15, despite the 4.6% decline in Brent YTD. Over the same period, the EM FX index has lost 3.8%, with TRY and BRL being the main laggards (-8.5% and -15.4%, respectively).
Separately, banks secured USD 1.6bn yesterday at the one-week FX repo auction at an average rate of 0.70%. Today, banks’ total FX debt to the regulator is to decline to USD 31.9bn on the back of USD 7.5bn redemptions.