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By Oksana Kobzeva and Lidia Kelly
MOSCOW Feb 18 The rouble fell to all-time low
against the euro and declined versus the dollar on Tuesday on
expectations of foreign currency purchases by the Russian
The ministry is soon to announce details of nearly $6
billion worth of purchases to replenish one of the country's
sovereign wealth funds.
"The details will be published in the coming days," Deputy
Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev told Reuters.
The rouble was trading at a record low of 48.54 versus the
euro at 1040 GMT, down 0.6 percent on the day ;
and was down 0.4 percent at 35.34 against the dollar
The Russian currency was down 0.5 percent at 41.30
against the dollar-euro basket after touching its weakest-ever
level of 41.31. The basket is used by the central bank to guide
the rouble's nominal exchange rate.
Russia's budget deficit came in last year at 0.5 percent of
gross domestic product, better than expected and freeing up
revenues to go into the Reserve Fund, one of the rainy day funds
in which the government saves windfall energy revenues.
The ministry has not disclosed the mechanism for the foreign
currency purchases. Last October, it said it would use a new
method - the central bank converting the roubles from the energy
revenues into foreign currency via the open market.
However the ministry said earlier this month that it may
also use an old mechanism of handling the revenues - through
off-market operations by the central bank, which may have little
impact on the rouble.
The lack of clarity about the purchases has shaken the
"A major portion of the uncertainty invariably comes from
the finance ministry and its plans to transfer (foreign
currencies) into the Reserve Fund," Evgeny Koshelev, an analyst
at Rosbank in Moscow, said in a note.
"Both local and foreign market participants are playing
against the rouble."
Analysts at VTB Capital said in a note that the rouble has
been underperforming most of its emerging market peers by 5-6
percent since the beginning of the year, with the expected
foreign currency purchases one of the reasons behind the
VTB remains optimistic about the fate of the Russian
currency, however, saying that by now all the risks associated
with the rouble - which also include fewer market interventions
by the central bank and the possibility of no rate hikes - are
"Therefore, we do not believe that there is much downside in
the rouble relative to other markets and the reversal will be
rather sharp," the analysts wrote.
For rouble poll data see
For Russian equities guide see
For Russian treasury bonds see
Russia in graphics: link.reuters.com/dun63s
($1 = 35.2150 Russian roubles)
(Additional reporting by Vladimir Abramov; Editing by Pravin