Russian rouble rises; Gazprom shares plummet on no-dividends move By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A picture illustration shows Russian rouble banknotes of various denominations on a table in Warsaw, Poland, January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian rouble rose on Thursday, heading towards its strongest levels since 2015 as it retained support from high commodity prices, while shares in Gazprom (MCX:) plummeted after the gas giant said it would not pay dividends.

Gazprom shares had fallen 22.7% to 230 roubles ($4.31) by 0754 GMT, minutes after the company said its shareholders had decided against distributing dividends on the 2021 results.

The rouble pared intraday gains after Gazprom’s move but was still up 0.8% at 52.80 to the dollar after nearing the 50 mark on Wednesday for the first time since May 2015.

Against the euro, the rouble rose 2% to 54.90, having climbed beyond 53 earlier this week for the first time since April 2015.

The rouble has become the world’s best-performing currency http://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/rngs/GLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE/0100301V041/index.html this year, boosted by measures taken to shield Russia’s financial system from Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24. The measures have included restrictions on Russian households withdrawing foreign currency savings.

The strong rouble has raised concerns among officials and export-focused companies, because it dents Russia’s income from selling commodities and other goods abroad for dollars and euros.

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia could cut state spending and channel funds for foreign currency interventions to keep a lid on the rouble’s strengthening, which threatens budget revenue.

The central bank could also ease upside pressure on the rouble by cutting interest rates as inflation slows and the economy needs cheaper lending. The central bank will next meet on interest rates on July 25.

Russian stock indexes were down. The dollar-denominated RTS index fell 4.9% to 1,345.1 points, dragged lower by Gazprom. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 5.5% lower at 2,251.0 points.

($1 = 53.4000 roubles)

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