13 Jul 2009 10:35

Dollar, euro extend gains at open on Mon; ruble weakening against currency basket

MOSCOW. July 13 (Interfax) - The dollar and euro rose sharply at the open on the MICEX currency exchange with the ruble depreciating about 1.5% (50 kopecks against the Central Bank's currency basket) in the first few minutes of trading on Monday, extending ruble losses into a second day. The currency basket has gained 1.5 rubles since Friday morning as investors sour on the Russian currency.

The first dollar "tom" contract was transacted at 32.92 rubles/$1, and the greenback rose further to 33.1 rubles/$1 in the ensuing minutes, roughly 40 kopecks above the previous close and more than one ruble above the official exchange rate.

The euro opened at 46 rubles/1 euro, about 45 kopecks higher than the close on Friday and about 1.3 rubles above the Central Bank's exchange rate.

The bicurrency basket ($0.55 and 0.45 euro) shot up to 38.9-39 rubles in the first minutes of trading, which is 40-50 kopecks higher than on Friday and the basket's highest level since mid-May.

Analysts from the Interfax Center for Economic Analysis said the basket's continuing gains are due to the negative investor sentiment and declining interest in the ruble as oil prices fall. Oil was trading at below $60 per barrel on Monday morning. The market is also highly speculative given the absence of near-term benchmarks from the Central Bank.

The euro was down slightly in forex trading to just above $1.39.