August 29, 2018 / 8:30 AM / 8 months ago

Rouble down on risk aversion, Putin's pension address in focus

MOSCOW, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble headed towards its weakest levels since April 2016 on Wednesday, pressured by lingering concerns about U.S. sanctions against Moscow, and ahead of a statement by President Vladimir Putin on proposed pension reform.

Putin is expected to deliver his views on the unpopular proposal to raise the retirement age at 0900 GMT. He has hinted he may water down the pension reforms which have pushed his approval rating down to its lowest level in more than four years.

At 0735 GMT, the rouble shed 0.4 percent to 68.12 against the dollar. Last week it hit 69.01 to the dollar, its weakest level since April 2016.

Versus the euro, the Russian currency lost 0.2 percent to 79.54, remaining under pressure even though the central bank halted its daily purchasing of foreign currency last week to help the rouble.

The rouble has now lost support from month-end tax payments which have come to an end, and the foreign currency offering by exporters is seen running out of steam, analysts at VTB Capital said.

Exporters usually convert their foreign currency revenues in order to meet local tax duties that fall in the second half of every month.

Meanwhile, geopolitical concerns remained and the rouble suffered from mounting global risk aversion.

“Any moment that carries no important news is being used by market participants to buy U.S. dollars,” analysts at Rosbank, subsidiary of Societe Generale, said.

U.S. sanctions against Russia tied to a nerve agent attack in Britain, which were announced earlier this month, came into effect on Monday and a second batch of penalties may be imposed after 90 days.

Russian stock indexes were mixed. The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.09 percent to 1,077.38 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.6 percent higher at 2,329.68 points.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Alexandra Hudson

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