Russian finance ministry to channel record $8.3 bln to reserves in month ahead

MOSCOW, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Russia's finance ministry is to channel a record $8.3 billion worth of gold and foreign currency to state reserves in the month ahead, it said on Thursday, but this should have no immediate impact on the rouble.

Russia does not target a specific rouble rate but normally buys FX on the local market on a daily basis under its fiscal rule, designed to shield it from fluctuations in prices for crude oil, its main export.

But the central bank, which carries out FX purchases on behalf of the finance ministry, decided to suspend these operations on Jan. 24 to ease pressure on the rouble, battered by geopolitical tensions between Moscow and the West.

The finance ministry said it would channel 634.7 billion roubles ($8.29 billion) between Feb. 7 and March 4 into buying foreign currency and gold to replenish state reserves, up from 585.9 billion roubles in the previous month.

A Reuters survey of analysts predicted that the finance ministry would replenish reserves by 550 billion roubles. read more

In daily terms, FX and gold buying would total 33.4 billion roubles ($436 million), the ministry said, a decrease in the amount of daily operations from the previous month.

In the preceding period, between Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, the finance ministry had planned to buy $491 million a day.

A recovery in prices for oil has enabled Russia to return to foreign currency purchases in 2021 after it was selling FX in 2020, which helped to limit losses in the rouble amid a slump in global commodity prices, the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical risks.

($1 = 76.6075 roubles)

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Alex Richardson and Ed Osmond

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