December 3, 2018 / 10:42 AM / 15 days ago

Rouble liquidity surplus may spur demand for OFZ bonds by year-end - finance ministry

MOSCOW, Dec 3 (Reuters) - A surplus of rouble liquidity in Russia’s banking system could boost demand for government bonds by the end of this year but that won’t help it fulfil its 2018 borrowing plan, a senior finance ministry official said on Monday.

Konstantin Vyshkovsky, head of the debt department at the Russian finance ministry, told Bloomberg in an interview that the ministry could raise around 90 billion roubles ($1.35 billion) at its weekly auctions of OFZ treasury bonds by the end of this year, out of 190 billion roubles planned earlier.

Asked about the report, Vyshkovsky told Reuters on Monday the finance ministry would offer to the market as much it was willing to digest.

“This may be 20 (billion roubles) a week - or less, or more,” he said.

Asked where he expected the demand to come from, Vyshkovsky said: “At the end of the year, the banks may have more liquidity (available).”

Russia is on track to borrow less than initially planned this year as it has had to cancel some weekly OFZ auctions amid market jitters caused by concerns over further U.S. sanctions against Moscow.

The ministry, which uses rouble-denominated OFZ bonds to finance budget spending, has even considered suspending borrowing until the year-end if volatility persists. However, the auctions have not been cancelled since October.

Last week the ministry sold all 10 billion roubles of OFZ bonds on offer.

The central bank sees the rouble liquidity surplus at 1.7-2.1 trillion roubles at the end of this year.

Foreign investors held around 25 percent of OFZ bonds as of Nov. 1, its lowest level since Aug. 1, 2016, compared with more than 30 percent seen earlier this year, according to the central bank.

Central bank officials said Russian banks and non-state pension funds had stepped in to buy OFZ bonds when foreign investors were selling them down.

$1 = 66.6800 roubles Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya Writing by Katya Golubkova Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Gareth Jones

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