UPDATE 1-Belarus says will stick to policy of minimising interventions

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MINSK, Jan 16 (Reuters) - The Belarussian central bank told Reuters it intended to stick to its policy of minimising foreign exchange interventions this year despite the rouble currency coming under pressure.

The Belarussian rouble is down almost 8 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, hurt by currency weakness in neighbouring Russia and diminishing appetite for risk on global markets.

The central bank said in response to a request for comment: “In 2015 the National Bank of Belarus moved to an exchange-rate formation mechanism known as a ‘managed float’ ... The main trends for changes in the exchange rate are formed by fundamental macroeconomic factors, the central bank should not interfere with them”.

“The National Bank intends to keep analogous approaches also in 2016,” it said.

Tanking commodity prices and a collapse in the Russian rouble have pressured the currencies of many former Soviet states over the past two years.

Some have been forced into devaluation to keep their economies competitive while others have altered their exchange-rate policy to prevent reserves from being drained completely dry.

The Belarussian central bank said it would take part in trading on the Belarussian currency market, buying and selling foreign currency when necessary.

It intends to smoothe sharp moves in the rouble and not allow the currency to strengthen excessively, it said. (Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Richard Balmforth)