News of Rita's waning sends dollar up on Russian market

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MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - Currency traders in Russia and throughout the world were studying weather forecasts, rather than macroeconomic indices Friday, as reports that Hurricane Rita had lost some of its strength increased demand for the U.S. dollar. Rita did not appear to be as formidable to investors as they had expected, Vladimir Abramov, an expert with Globex Bank, said.

"The downgrading of the hurricane from the strongest level category five to four immediately led to an increase in demand for dollar-denominated purchases of shares," Abramov said.

The dollar rose seven kopeks on the Russian exchange. The turnover of deals with "tomorrow" settlements at Friday's unified trading session, a sampling analysis of which the Central Bank does at 11:30 (7:30 GMT) and uses as a basis for fixing the official exchange rate for the next day, was enormous.

By mid-morning, the deals, mainly purchasing deals, totaled more than $1 billion, and by 2 p.m. (10:00 GMT) they had reached nearly $1.5 billion.

"This is a big turnover," Dmitry Baibikov, deputy head of the Moscow Industrial Bank's currency markets department, said. "We usually have such figures at the close of a session."

Baibikov said high demand was largely due to forecasts by hopeful traders that the dollar would continue to rise as Rita would weaken.

"All hedging was about oil assets," Baibikov said. "If Rita affects them, the dollar will plummet."

Should Rita spare the industrial areas of the southeastern U.S., Forex quotes will be back within the previous boundaries, the dollar heading upward, Abramov said.

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