Ruble, buoyed by oil, steadies after sanctions threat

© Reuters. A picture illustration shows U.S. Dollar and Russian Ruble banknotes in Sarajevo

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The ruble steadied against the dollar on Friday, supported by rising oil prices a day after the threat of new U.S. sanctions unnerved Russia’s financial markets.

At 0730 GMT, the ruble was unchanged against the dollar at 66.66 and traded at 75.20 versus the euro. The Russian currency touched 67 against the dollar on Thursday, its weakest since Jan. 15.

U.S. senators this week introduced a bill that would impose stiff new sanctions on Russia over its policy toward Ukraine and allegations that it meddled in U.S. elections.

On Friday , a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, hit 2019 highs above $65 per barrel amid OPEC-led supply cuts and a partial shutdown of Saudi Arabia’s biggest offshore oil field.

“Sanctions expectations brought the rouble down, but the Russian currency could now strengthen due to rising oil prices,” said Georgy Vashchenko of Freedom Finance.

The ruble was also supported by export-focused companies converting hard currency revenues to pay local taxes.

After falling on Thursday, government-issued OFZ bonds showed signs of stabilizing and stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 1.19 percent at 1,170.12 points. The ruble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.75 percent higher at 2479.45 points.

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