• ACI Russia

08/18/1998 08:48:03 Russian rouble fixes sharply lower at 6.8850/USD

MOSCOW, Aug 18 (Reuters) - The rouble fixed sharply lower on the MICEX exchange on Tuesday at 6.8850 dollars versus the previous day's 6.4300 after measures by the central bank and government that were seen as a de facto devaluation. The measures included a widening of the rouble's permitted fluctuation band to 6.00/9.50 to the dollar, which many analysts said represented an effective devaluation. However, today's MICEX fix was within the previous band of 5.27/7.13. The rouble was quoted on the spot market at 6.900/7.5500. However, traders said the spot market was still more or less frozen by uncertainty over the government and central bank's currency policy and the liquidity crisis in the banking system that forced the emergency monetary steps announced on Monday. As well as the wider currency band, the central bank and government also said they would allow the rouble freely to float, with the market setting the rate rather than the central bank deciding on a mini-band in the morning. It also declared a moratorium on some foreign debt and suspended trade in the t-bill GKO market and OFZ bond market ahead of a planned conversion of paper maturing up to the end of 1999 to longer-term debt. ((Patrick Lannin, Moscow Newsroom, +7095 941-8520 moscow.newsroom@reuters.com))

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