Russian central bank hikes interest rate by 1.5 percentage points to stave off rouble slide

Emma Haslett
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The rouble has fallen 23 per cent against the dollar since the beginning of the year (Source: Getty)

So much for the softly-softly approach to monetary policy taken by most central banks at the moment.

Russia has hiked interest rates by 1.5 percentage points to 9.5 per cent, in an effort to stave off further slides in the rouble.

The value of Russia's international reserve stockpile has fallen more than $30bn since the start of the year, from $469.5bn to $439.1bn. The rouble has fallen 23 per cent against the dollar, from 0.0304 at the beginning of 2014, to 0.0232 on Wednesday, fuelled by sanctions against Moscow and sliding oil prices.

Yesterday, the currency rallied to 0.024 against the dollar on confidence the central bank would act decisively to prevent it sliding further. And although the bank duly obliged, the sheer size of the hike took analysts - many of whom had predicted a rise to 8.25 per cent - by surprise.

But even tougher measures may be needed, particularly considering the fact that after a spike, the rouble fell to 0.0237 per cent against the dollar, reversing some of yesterday's gains.

To compound its woes, earlier this week research by Goldman Sachs suggested oil prices would drop further in the first quarter of next year, although a new deal with Ukraine to resume gas supplies over the winter may bring some welcome relief to the beleaguered Russian economy: the deal includes a $1.45bn up-front payment, and another $1.65bn by the end of the year.

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