Oil report

Rouble slips on step up in state FX purchases

MOSCOW, Jan 14 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble slipped on Tuesday, pressured by the state’s foreign currency purchases, as investors turned their attention to the imminent signing of the first phase of a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and China.

The world’s two biggest economies this week are set to sign the first phase of a trade deal that will help resolve an 18-month trade dispute that has rattled global markets and prompted fears of a global recession.

Investors are holding off from major moves until the deal is signed, which has made the effects of increased foreign currency purchases by the Russian finance ministry more visible on the rouble.

The ministry said on Monday it would increase its daily purchases of foreign currency to the equivalent of 18.2 billion roubles ($298.7 million) over the next month, after having bought 9.3 billion roubles a day in its last run of purchases.

The FX purchases are meant to safeguard Russia’s budget from swings in the prices of oil, one of its main sources of income, but they also limit room for the rouble to appreciate.

At 0739 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% weaker against the dollar at 61.45 and had lost 0.3% to trade at 68.45 versus the euro, after having traded near its strongest levels since 2018 last week and early Monday.

Russia’s finance ministry will announce later on Tuesday its first OFZ treasury bond auction of 2020, which is expected to curb any further losses for the rouble this week.

Investors often convert their foreign currency into roubles to purchase OFZ bonds, buttressing the Russian currency.

Russian stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.21% to 1,622.7 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.5% higher at 3,166 points.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was steady at $64.24 a barrel as of 0730 GMT.

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Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Vladimir Abramov; Editing by Mark Potter