© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Sheets of the newly designed Russian 100-rouble banknotes are seen at the Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 6, 2022. Moscow News Agency/Handout via REUTERS
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By Alexander Marrow
MOSCOW (Reuters) -The rouble strengthened past 61 to the dollar on Friday to a two-week high, supported by a favourable month-end tax period as geopolitics continued to hold sway over Russian markets.
By 1221 GMT, the rouble was 0.8% stronger against the dollar at 60.92, its strongest point since Oct. 7.
It had gained 1.8% to trade at 59.50 versus the euro, earlier clipping a two-week high, and firmed 1.5% against the yuan to 8.30, its strongest mark since Oct. 5.
The rouble is the world’s best-performing currency this year, supported by capital controls and slumping imports after Western governments imposed hefty sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, while scores of foreign companies paused operations in the country.
“The Russian currency continues to consolidate on the back of the tax period,” Veles Capital said in a note.
The rouble is buttressed by a month-end tax period that usually sees export-focused firms convert foreign exchange revenues into roubles to pay domestic tax liabilities.
The ever-present threat of more Western sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine continues to hang over Russian markets, which remain susceptible to wild bouts of volatility.
Investors are also looking ahead to next week’s central bank rate decision.
“Since the September meeting, both new proinflationary and disinflationary factors have emerged,” said Igor Rapokhin, chief debt market strategist at SberCIB Investment Research, expecting the Bank of Russia to hold its key rate at 7.5% on Oct. 28.
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.1% at $92.5 a barrel.
“The Russian stock market is still dominated by sentiment trading,” said BCS Global Markets. “Since late September, the iMOEX has entered a consolidation phase, and seesawing may continue in the short term.”
Russian stock indexes opened lower on Friday, but managed to claw their way back into positive territory.
The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.6% to 1,048.0 points, earlier reaching its highest point since Oct. 6. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.1% higher at 2,026.7 points.