Russian rouble weakens as central bank cuts rates to 11%

The rouble started falling from those multi-year highs on Wednesday as the market anticipated the bank's decision.

 Russian Rouble coins are seen in front of displayed descending stock graph in this illustration taken, February 24, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)
Russian Rouble coins are seen in front of displayed descending stock graph in this illustration taken, February 24, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

The Russian rouble weakened on Thursday as the central bank cut interest rates to 11% at an off-schedule policy meeting and a month-end tax period passed, though capital controls kept it trading not far from multi-year highs to the euro and dollar.

The central bank cut its key rate by 300 basis points for the third time in a row, softening the cost of borrowing again after an emergency rate hike to 20% in late February, days after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

Central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina is due to speak at a banking forum later on Thursday.

By 0748 GMT, the rouble was 2.6% weaker against the dollar at 60.89 RUBUTSTN=MCX, tumbling from 55.80, its strongest level since February 2018 which it hit on Wednesday, and edging towards a near one-week low.

It had lost 4.4% to trade at 63.32 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX, having touched a seven-year high of 57.10 in the previous session.

 Maxim Shemetov People walk past the Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia February 11, 2019. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS) Maxim Shemetov People walk past the Central Bank headquarters in Moscow, Russia February 11, 2019. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

The rouble started falling from those multi-year highs on Wednesday as the market anticipated the bank's decision as inflationary expectations fell and with the firmer rouble holding down price growth.

Predictions and analyses 

Several analysts had predicted a 200-basis-point cut.

The rouble has been supported so far this year by capital controls, new gas payment terms requiring conversion of foreign currency into the currency and a fall in imports.

But it has now lost the support of the month-end tax period that usually sees export-focused companies convert foreign currency into roubles to pay local liabilities.

Russian stock indexes were mixed.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 0.7% to 1230.4 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 1.7% higher at 2,378.4 points.