Yesterday, RUB enjoyed another strong session. At the opening, USDRUB dipped 1.0% to 50.50, consolidating at this level until the evening. However, rising oil prices spurred further RUB strengthening, pulling USDRUB below 50.00. As a result, RUB gained 2.5% on the day, closing at 49.73, its highest since December. Meanwhile, Brent climbed 4.5% to USD 60.2/bbl. Despite the start of the tax period, trading activity remained muted, with the MICEX reporting turnover of USD 3.8bn.
Commodity based-currencies also benefited from crude’s rise, with NOK advancing 1.5% and NZD firming 1.0%, and AUD gaining 0.7%. At the same time, EM FX trading was mixed: ZAR and TRY weakened 0.4%, KRW slipped 0.3%, while BRL and IDR jumped 1.1% and 0.6%, respectively.
The CBR yesterday published data on FX retail operations, which indicated continuing hard currency selling by the general population. In February, net FX sales were USD 1.0bn, triple the previous month’s figures. The survey notes that households continued to reduce FX purchases (down 5.0% MoM) as well as to increase FX sales (up 5.0% MoM). RUB firmed 9.3% in February, now having gained 36.9% since 1 February.