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Ruble and Stocks Tumble on Ukraine Turmoil

Published: March 4, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • The ruble bottomed out at 37 per dollar on Monday morning before rebounding slightly. Tuesdays rate is 36.38.
    Photo: For SPT

The ruble and equity market plummeted Monday morning following escalation in the Crimean crisis over the weekend, as rattled investors withdrew their capital en masse and latched onto the most ironclad assets they could find.

President Vladimir Putin on Saturday received authorization from the Federation Council to move Russian military forces into Ukraine "until the situation in the country is normalized," sparking fears of outright war and threats of economic sanctions from the West.

Related: Central Bank Tested as Ruble Falls to Record Lows

The ruble-denominated MICEX index lost $58.4 billion in market capitalization since the end of trading Friday, the worst sell-off since the crisis of 2008, Reuters reported.

The ruble fell to historically low levels in the morning, trading at 37 to the dollar and 50.7 to the euro and breaching the upper bounds of the 42.2 ruble corridor against the basket set by the Central Bank.

Anticipating instability, the Central Bank unexpectedly raised its key lending rate in the morning from 5.5 to 7 percent, and propped up the ruble by selling dollars.

Related: Economist Advises Russians to Dump Ruble, Buy Hard Currency

"There have been some $11 billion sold today, some $10 billion came from the Central Bank," said Mikhail Paley, a dealer at VTB Capital. The Central Bank still holds $493.4 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves.

The increased lending rates will boost the cost of financing in rubles, which should in turn make the ruble more attractive for currency traders and ultimately stabilize the exchange rate, said HSBC chief economist Alexander Morozov, Vedomosti reported.

Other analysts doubted that the rate hike can prevent a further decline.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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