RUSSIANS ANXIOUS FOR FOREIGN CASH

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MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) - Last July's net public demand for foreign cash came close to the record-breaking Julys 1996 and 97, immediately before the default of August 1998, the Central Bank of Russia says on its website.

Net demand is a scissors between foreign cash the public obtains by exchange and/or from private deposits, and the amount authorised banks acquire from private persons through exchange from roubles to put on their accounts.

Last July's net public demand skyrocketed by 82% against June's to US$3.1 billion-that mainly due to private residents, whose net demand grew 2.4-fold to $2.4 billion. Nonresidents' net demand increased by a token 0.3% to $0.73 billion.

August's net demand was more modest, and is estimated at $1.9 to 2.2 billion.

July accounted for a peak public demand. The Central Bank ascribes it to season and to mass media attention to several Moscow banks' liquidity problems. Summer vacations made residents remove big rouble sums from their bank accounts to exchange into foreign moneys, and the media fever forced them to draw cash from foreign currency accounts, remarks the on-line review.

Lump foreign cash acquired from all available sources, including market capacity-authorised banks' leftovers from the fiscal period start, grew in July by 30% since June to $12.4 billion. The interbank turnover came 54% up to $6.5 billion, and the private turnover 15% to $10.7 billion.

July's total public demand for foreign cash-acquired in exchange offices, through conversion and from currency accounts-increased by 26% against June to $6.9 billion. It exceeded July 2002 by 70% and July 2003 by 40%. The demand for US dollar cash came 25% up, and for Euro 31%. The US dollar accounted for 85% of the total, as against 86%, June.

The lump public foreign cash offer-sum total of moneys exchanged into roubles through exchange and operation offices, plus put on foreign currency accounts-stayed at June's level, $3.8billion. For that and the two previous months, it was somewhat below the same months 2003-2% down, July. The US dollar share shrank, somewhat, to 86%.

To satisfy the snowballing public demands, authorised banks drew to Russia, July, $3.4 billion foreign cash, in dollar equivalent-double the June amount. The share of the US dollar was 85% against 87%, June.

Foreign cash outflow came 10% down to $0.13 billion, US dollars making the bulk.

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