Is new ruble reduction around the corner?

 Is new ruble reduction around the corner?

At the end of last week a change in the number of traders on the currency market, who bet on the growth and fall of the ruble in favor of the latter, was recorded on the Moscow stock exchange.

The number of traders oriented to the strengthening of the Russian national currency reduced by 4600 people. Against this background, the number of those playing on the appreciation of the dollar increased by 5000 people.

As a result, for the first time in the last month and a half the number of those betting on the depreciation of the ruble on the stock exchange exceeded the number of their opponents. The long position in futures, which make a profit with the growth of the dollar, opened 6 times more traders than those who bet on the ruble.

The last time such major changes occurred in the currency market was in mid-February. Then they started a five-week period of continuous appreciation of the ruble, which caused the depreciation of the dollar by about 15%, Prime reports.

A professor of the department of the stock market and investments at the Higher School of Economics, Alexander Abramov, said in an interview with a correspondent of Vestnik Kavkaza that it was obvious that the number of traders who bet on a weak ruble will exceed the number of those who bet on a strong ruble. "We see that the appreciation of oil is rather weak and a weakening of monetary policy in Russia will be inevitable. That is, the actions of the Ministry of Finance and the refinancing of the Bank of Russia will provide an infusion of means to the Russian economy, a part of which will be aimed at support of producers and consumers," he explained.

The expert also noted that in recent years the ruble traditionally strengthens till April, after which it inevitably begins to weaken.

At the same time, he expressed the opinion that the current dollar exchange rate of around 70 rubles would be the equilibrium. "70 rubles per dollar is a rather comfortable level. Therefore, a strengthening is inevitable. I have no doubt that it will happen," the expert believes.

According to him, it usually starts in May or June, when the government loosens its monetary policy. "We have seen that the Ministry of Finance sold quite large amounts of currency from the Reserve Fund, and the Bank of Russia and the government tried to stabilize the ruble. In the next month we will see a reduction in the key rate. Which means that money will be more available to banks. It will affect the weakening of the ruble," the professor of the department of the stock market and investments at the Higher School of Economics summed up.

The associate professor of stock markets and financial engineering of RANEPA, Vasiliy Yakimkin, stressed that the main reason is forecasts of a drop in oil prices. "Also, such major Western analytical agencies as Goldman Sachs and Bank of New York predicted a weakening of the ruble. There is a system for a small devaluation of the ruble, so people started to play for a fall," the expert said.

"In addition, the Bank of Russia began to buy dollars, that is, to carry out foreign exchange interventions. After that there were a lot of analytical notes that the dollar will not fall below 67 rubles and even rise to 73 rubles. That is, everyone started playing for a fall of the ruble, as, according to forecasts, a decline in oil prices is expected. In addition, yesterday and today, emerging-market currencies are losing positions against the dollar. Although the probability that the rate will be raised is about 10%, according to some estimates, on the eve of the meeting it may increase to 15-20%. So there are many factors that a weakening of the ruble will take place soon," the associate professor of stock markets and financial engineering of RANEPA noted.

Speaking about when the exchange rate may start to fall, he expressed the opinion that it will happen when there will be signals from the US Federal Reserve. "As soon as there is a probability of increasing the base interest rate by at least 15-20% by the Federal Reserve, it will become a strong incentive. Brent and WTI put pressure on emerging-market currencies, including the ruble. They reached $40 per barrel, but cannot fix themselves higher. In this situation, if oil weakens, everyone will bet on a further weakening of the ruble. Therefore, in the coming weeks we could see 73 rubles per dollar, but, apparently, it won't be allowed to grow further, because the US global funds in Carry trade played in favor of the ruble very well. This is the only thing we can count on in the fact that the ruble will not fall too low," Vasiliy Yakimkin summarized.