MOSCOW, Dec 9 (Reuters) - The rouble firmed slightly in early trade on Wednesday, heading back to its strongest levels since August ahead of treasury bond auctions, while the MOEX stock index headed towards an all-time peak thanks to globally higher risk appetite.
At 0752 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% firmer against the dollar at 73.35, moving towards its strongest level since Aug. 19 of 73.05 touched in the previous session.
“If today sees further encouraging news on the stimulus front, demand for risk assets will remain strong. In this case, we think the rouble could firm to 73 and possibly even temporarily break through that level,” Sberbank CIB said.
“Further support could come from potential demand from non-residents at today’s OFZ auctions.”
The finance ministry will hold two auctions of OFZ treasury bonds that Russia uses to plug holes in the budget amid lower revenues from commodity exports and higher budget spending aimed at tackling the coronavirus crisis.
Such auctions usually serve as a gauge of demand for Russian assets and can buttress the rouble.
Versus the euro, the rouble was steady at 88.97 , far from levels of around 70 seen in early 2020 before oil prices collapsed and the coronavirus pandemic prompted wide-scale lockdowns.
Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.2% at $48.95 a barrel, underpinned by positive news on COVID-19 vaccines that boosted investor optimism about a recovery in fuel demand.
On the stock market, the dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.6% to 1,373.4 points, its strongest level since early March.
The rouble-based MOEX Russian index gained 0.6% to 3,197.4 points, inching closer to an all-time high of 3,226.89 hit in January.