September 7, 2018 / 7:48 AM / 19 days ago

Rouble up from two-and-half year lows, government bonds hit by sanction fears

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian rouble bounced off 2-1/2-year lows on Friday while prices of government bonds dropped to multi-month lows as the market digested threats of more Western sanctions.

FILE PHOTO: A woman holds new 200 and 2,000 rouble banknotes in a bank in Moscow, Russia November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

The rouble was 0.5 percent stronger against the dollar at 68.90 as of 09015 GMT, rising off the 69.64 it hit on Thursday, its weakest level since March 2016.

Against the euro, the rouble gained 0.3 percent to 80.24 after Thursday’s low of 80.85, also its weakest since early March 2016.

The rouble has come under pressure this week from fears of more Western sanctions after Britain revealed details about the Salisbury nerve agent attack.

U.S. lawmakers, already discussing possible new sanctions on Russia for meddling in U.S. elections, said they may consider measures targeting its sovereign debt, or wealthy, politically connected business leaders.

“The possibility of introducing a ban on buying new Russian sovereign debt has increased,” Promsvyazbank analysts said.

“In the next few weeks, until specific information on new sanctions package emerges, the market will remain very nervous, reacting to high grade of uncertainty,” Nordea Bank said in a note.

Yields of 10-year government bonds, known as OFZs, rose to 9.21 percent for the first time since April 2016 as prices fell.

The head of the debt department at the Finance Ministry, Konstantin Vyshkovksy, said he hoped the market would calm down, and that any state intervention in the OFZ market could only be a short-term emergency measure.

Ministry officials said on Thursday that the ministry had tools aimed at smoothing market volatility, and might consider intervening on the domestic secondary OFZ treasury bond market if needed.

The central bank also stepped in by saying there were reasons to consider raising rates as soon as next week.

Russian stocks were mixed. The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.15 percent to 1,055.8 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.5 percent lower at 2,309.7 points.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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