MOSCOW, April 2 Russia's Sberbank has
suspended foreign-currency lending to individuals indefinitely
because of the rouble's high volatility, it said on Wednesday.
The Russian rouble has been falling sharply since
last summer, on expectations of the U.S. Federal Reserve
withdrawing its stimulus programme and most recently on fears
that Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region would lead
to trade sanctions from the West, further damaging the economy.
The rouble is currently trading about 8 percent lower
against the dollar than at the start of the year, despite
erasing some losses. During the 2008/09 financial crisis,
Russian banks also suspended foreign currency lending.
Sberbank, Russia's biggest lender, said it stopped accepting
applications for retail loans in foreign currencies on April 1
"to optimise its loan portfolio structure and ensure its
stability in the future in case of changes in the foreign
currencies' exchange rates".
Foreign-currency lending to corporate clients would
continue, a Sberbank spokesman said.
Sberbank issued 1.78 billion roubles ($51 million) of retail
loans denominated in foreign currencies last year, out of 2.4
trillion roubles issued in total.
($1 = 35.0870 Russian Roubles)
(Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Maria Kiselyova;
Editing by Jason Bush and David Goodman)