Russian rouble falls as oil prices drop, tax period ends

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian rouble dipped lower on Tuesday, under pressure from lower oil prices and the end monthly tax payments by export-focused companies.

The new 200 and 2,000 Russian rouble banknotes are on display during a presentation in Moscow, Russia October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

At 0836 GMT, the rouble was 0.25 percent weaker against the dollar at 58.12 and had lost 0.21 percent to trade at 67.70 versus the euro.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.41 percent at $60.65 a barrel after nearing $61 per barrel in the previous session, a level last seen in mid-2015.

Overall, oil prices are still high and investors are optimistic about Russian assets, both factors that play in favour of the rouble’s strengthening, analysts at Rosbank said in a note.

But the rouble lost support from the ending of a monthly tax payment period on Tuesday, when Russian exporters convert dollar revenues into roubles to meet pay local taxes.

The Russian currency also came under pressure from debt repayment - according to central bank data, Russian banks and companies will have to repay a net $23.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

External risks such as the possible revaluation of U.S. monetary policy also limited the rouble’s upside, said VTB analysts.

“Investors are expecting (U.S. President Donald) Trump to nominate current Fed Governor Jerome Powell as Fed Chair, possibly this Thursday ahead of the president’s 11-day trip to Asia this weekend,” analysts at VTB Capital said in a note.

Russian stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.1 percent to 1.125 points, while the rouble-based MICEX was 0.58 percent higher at 2,077 points.

Shares of Russia’s second-largest mobile telecommunications operator Megafon fell about 5 percent in early trade on Tuesday, then recovered to gain around 1 percent.

The share move followed a statement by Nordic telecom operator Telia Company, which said it was selling a 19 percent stake in Megafon to Gazprombank for around 8.6 billion Swedish crowns ($1.03 billion).

For rouble poll data see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/fx-polls?RIC=RUB=

For Russian equities guide see <RU/EQUITY>

For Russian treasury bonds see <0#RUTSY=MM>

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Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya, editing by Larry King