November 24, 2014 / 4:20 PM / in 4 years

Armenia's central bank says not worried by currency depreciation

YEREVAN, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Armenia’s central bank said on Monday it had enough reserves to prevent major fluctuations in the dram and protect financial stability in the ex-Soviet country following a sharp fall in the value of the national currency.

The Armenian dram slipped to 435 drams per dollar on Monday from 418 drams on Friday, continuing a trend that started at the end of October.

The central bank has spent some $60.75 million intervening in the market to support the currency in the last three weeks.

“The central bank reserves are enough to prevent any artificial fluctuations of the rate and secure financial stability,” it said in a statement.

The bank’s currency reserves were $1.7 billion on Oct. 31, down 31.6 percent from a year before.

The bank said the dram’s depreciation was the result of recent developments on regional and international markets.

Some experts say economic difficulties in Russia, Armenia’s largest trading partner, as well as a fall in prices of non-ferrous metals, Armenia’s main exports, are the main reasons.

“The dram started to depreciate more actively in November amid devaluation expectations linked to the situation in Russia,” said an independent analyst based in Yerevan, who did not want to be named.

The Russian rouble has lost around a quarter of its value since mid-year, creating problems for trading partners whose currencies have strengthened against the rouble as a result.

Bilateral trade between Armenia and Russia exceeded $1.5 billion last year — mainly imports to Armenia, which is nestled between Iran, Georgia and regional rival Azerbaijan. Russia is also Armenia’s main investor, with its capital present in most economic sectors. (Reporting by Hasmik Mkrtchyan; Writing by Margarita Antidze; Editing by Jason Bush and Catherine Evans)

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