Ruble at Ten-month High after U.S. Fed Signals Rate Cut

Signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve that it was ready to cut interest rates to support the economy helped the Russian ruble hit a 10-month high on Thursday, according to Reuters.

The currency opened 0.4% stronger at 63.51 to the dollar, its best performance since August 2018, and was unchanged against the euro at 71.64.

The prospect of a key rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve would increase demand for emerging market currencies as investors look for higher-yielding assets.

This week, the ruble hovered around two-month highs because of strong demand for OFZ treasury bonds, which serves as a gauge of global market sentiment toward Russian assets.

Demand for the bonds has soared this year after months of uncertainty surrounding possible new U.S. sanctions on holdings of Russian debt.

Oil prices, which often support the Russian currency, rose on Thursday on signs of improving demand in the United States, while OPEC and other producers finally agreed to a date for a meeting to discuss output cuts, Reuters writes.

“The combination of factors that have emerged in the past few months is unique: a strong rouble that reacts little to fluctuations in oil prices, expectations of an easing policy from the Fed, heightened confidence that the Russian central bank will further cut rates and the absence of negative geopolitical factors,” Rosbank said in a note.

The Russian central bank last week cut its key interest rate for the first time since March 2018, signaling that it could pursue a monetary easing policy to tackle slowing economic activity.