MOSCOW, Sept 6 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble weakened past
73 to the dollar on Monday, heading away from the previous
session's two-month peak in thin trade with U.S. markets closed
for a public holiday, while shares in aluminium giant Rusal fell
in jittery trade.
The market weighed expectations of another increase in
Russian interest rates and a decline in oil prices.
At 1529 GMT the rouble was 0.4% weaker against the dollar at
73.04 after reaching its strongest since late
June at 72.55 on Friday.
Against the euro, the rouble eased 0.3% to 86.64.
The rouble could gain support from Russia's central bank if
it raises rates on Friday for the fifth time this year in an
effort to rein in consumer inflation.
A Reuters poll suggested the bank would raise by 50 basis
points to 7%, but many analysts predicted a smaller
Higher rates increase the appeal of rouble-denominated
instruments, while expectations that the rate-raising cycle
could be close to an end could lead to higher demand for Russian
In the near-term, the target range for the rouble is 72.5 to
73.1 versus the dollar, Sberbank Asset Management said in a
Russia's decision to trim foreign exchange purchases for
state reserves in September could provide some support for the
rouble, said Alor Broker analyst Alexey Antonov.
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's
main export, was down 0.6% at $72.15 a barrel, extending losses
after Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, cut crude
contract prices for Asia over the weekend.
The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.05% at
1,735.1 while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index
gained 0.5% to 4,023.13 after hitting an all-time high of
Rusal shares fell 2% following sharp gains after a
coup in major bauxite supplier Guinea sent aluminium prices to
their highest in more than 10 years.
Rusal, which is the world's third-largest aluminium
producer, said it aimed to keep its three major bauxite mines
and one alumina refinery in Guinea operating after the military
coup. Guinea's bauxite industry - with its mines - accounts for
42% of Rusal's total bauxite capacity.
(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Anna Rzhevkina; Editing by
Sherry Jacob-Phillips, David Goodman and Dan Grebler)