Russian ruble holds near record low against dollar

The Russsian ruble held close to a record low against the dollar Friday at about 82 to the dollar in morning trading.

The ruble had dropped to a record low against the U.S. currency Thursday, down to 85.999. It has lost about 20 percent in value against the dollar in the past three weeks.

“The ruble seems to have developed its own distinct weakening trend. I think the Russian authorities have hitherto been trying to manage the ruble weaker, to insulate the economy and budget from lower oil prices,” commented Timothy Ash, credit strategist with investment bank Nomura in London, in a note published Thursday.

“With over $350 billion in foreign exchange reserves, the Russian authorities can still put the currency wherever they want it in the short term. I think the ruble move is beginning to look worrying, and so we have these attempts to verbally intervene in support of the currency,” Ash said.

The Russian government had attempted to downplay the ruble’s crash.

“The rate is volatile, but it’s hardly a collapse. There’s no reason to believe the central bank doesn’t have any plans to escape a genuine collapse,” Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.

Ash forecast that the ruble would reach 90 to the dollar, “and I do not rule out a three-digit ruble”.

The sharp drop in the price of oil to near $30 per barrel has been the major driver of the recession in Russia.

The International Monetary Fund forecast Tuesday in its World Economic Outlook report that Russia would remain in recession through the end of 2016, and that its economy would contract by 1 percent.