April 2, 2018 / 3:51 PM / in 6 months

Russia to increase FX purchases in April as oil prices rise: Reuters poll

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s finance ministry is expected to increase purchases of foreign currency in April as oil prices rise, according to a Reuters poll.

The median forecast of 12 analysts polled by Reuters was for the ministry to buy the equivalent of 233.5 billion roubles ($4.06 billion) between April 6 and May 8, up from 192.5 billion roubles in March.

Analysts expect the finance ministry to buy the equivalent, on average, of 11.1 billion roubles per day during this period.

Stanislav Murashov, an analyst with Raiffeisenbank, said the reason for the bigger forex purchases is an increase in the average price for Russia’s Urals crude blend to $64 per barrel over the last month from $63.3 in February.

“Also it is a positive seasonal factor; in April oil and gas budget revenues, with all else being equal, are usually slightly higher than in March,” he said.

Urals traded near $67.70 a barrel on Monday.

The finance ministry, which started buying foreign currency early last year to beef up its reserves, is set to publish its FX intervention plan on April 4.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya; Editing by Christian Lowe and David Evans

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