Saturday, April 4, 2015

4/4/15: A Sign of Ruble Stabilisation? Russian Forex Reserves Rise

The latest data (through last week) published two days ago by the Central Bank of Russia shows that Russian Forex reserves have risen for the second week in a row. In the week of 27/03/2015 Forex reserves rose USD7.9 billion to USD360.8 billion and in the week prior they were up USD1.2 billion. Thus, relative to the crisis period low of USD351.7 billion set in the week of 13/03/2015, Russian Forex reserves are up USD9.1 billion. This puts weekly reserves at USD2.2 billion below end of February reading.

This is a very uncertain development at this point in time. Russian Forex reserves were down 15 consecutive weeks prior to the last two weeks of increases, so it is too early to read the latest upticks as reversal of the trend, but it is pretty clear that, for now, things have stabilised somewhat.

Monthly data, not yet fully available, but reflective of the last week results, suggests that the aggregate reserves are slightly up m/m. At the end of March, Forex reserves at USD360.8 billion appear to be up USD579 million on the end of February.

In the year through the end of March 2015, the reserves are down USD125.33 billion (-25.8%) and on the start of the sanctions, these are down USD132.53 billion (-26.9%). Q1 2015 (end of quarter) reserves are down USD24.66 billion on end of Q4 2014. In other words, we need to see several more weeks of improved reserves before we can call a new trend.

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