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Rouble set for 2015 high as US$9b tax deadline spurs demand

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 - 08:22
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The rouble headed for the strongest level this year as tax-payment deadlines boosted demand, while Russian bonds gained for a fourth day.

[MOSCOW] The rouble headed for the strongest level this year as tax-payment deadlines boosted demand, while Russian bonds gained for a fourth day.

The currency of the world's biggest energy exporter rose as much as 1.1 per cent to 58.5810 per dollar as Sberbank CIB estimated corporate taxes due on Wednesday would amount to about 530 billion rubles (S$12.3 billion). That's helping the currency extend the best performance in emerging markets this year as oil stabilises around US$55 a barrel.

"The rouble is being supported by the tax season and the fact that oil isn't going lower," Vadim Bit-Avragim, a money manager in Moscow at Kapital Asset Management LLC, which oversees 175.4 billion roubles, said by phone. "There's a shortage of roubles in the system and weak demand for the dollar." Duties amounting to about 1.3 trillion roubles this month, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey, helped drive a 5 per cent advance in the currency even as 20 out of 24 emerging-market currencies retreated. Brent crude, the benchmark used to price Russia's main export blend, rose as much as 1.6 per cent on Monday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co will exclude Russian government bonds from its indexes of investment-grade debt after Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's cut the nation's credit score to junk this year, the Wall Street Journal reported last week.

"In the longer term, it's a negative event, but in the short term, it has already been priced in," Ivan Guminov, a senior money manager at Ronin Trust in Moscow, said in e-mailed comments.

While the rouble strengthened, Russia's dollar-denominated RTS stock index retreated for the first day in five. The Micex Index closed 1.6 per cent lower at 1,602.85 as OAO Sberbank and OAO Magnit led declines.

BLOOMBERG