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    DOLLAR/RUBLE RATE STANDS AT 28.5 RUBLES AGAINST DOLLAR FOR THIRD DAY

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 16 (RIA NOVOSTI) - For a third day now, the dollar/ruble rate has been standing still at 28.5 rubles to the dollar, fluctuating within the daily range of several hundredths. Thus, defying the expected downfall after the presidential election, stagnation on the currency market continues and the dollar will hardly go up in the near future.

    Pavel Suprunov, chief of the analysis section of the market analysis board of Rosbank, noted that current situation is shaped by fundamental factors - a favorable situation on the world commodity markets ensuring a continuing influx of export currency earnings to the country, increased investment attraction of the Russian financial market.

    An additional prop-up for the ruble is the lowering balance on the correspondent accounts of credit organizations in the Bank of Russia. On Tuesday the balance reached its minimum in 2004 - 152.5 billion rubles. On Monday it was 171.4 billion rubles. The increased demand for ruble resources is seen from the growth of rates on the interbank crediting market - the 1 to 2 percent annual on Tuesday. In preceding days it did not exceed one percent.

    According to dealers, for the second day now the currency market has been quiet with market quotations topping the "backing" of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation - 28.485 rubles to the dollar, at which the bank is buying currency from market participants. In the morning, the quotations fluctuated within 28.51 rubles to the dollar rising, as result of a small market-activity splash, to the 28.52 ruble mark. As of 11:30 a.m., Moscow time, today and tomorrow deals at the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange unified trade session were made within the range 28.5-28.52 and 28.505-28.53 rubles to the dollar, respectively. The market activity was low - the UTS total volume was about 200 million dollars.

    "No large sales are in view. A routine working situation prevails on the market," Mezhprombank dealer Dmitry Lipin said.

    Thus, the ruble rate has come close to the level when the Central Bank intervenes, though continuing fluctuations within a narrow price range, marked by the main national financial institution. In the opinion of experts, only the Central Bank can provide a new impetus in the market. "The Russian monetary market's mood is towards the strengthening of the rate of the Russian ruble. The main intrigue of the near future is when the financial authorities are going to allow another stage of strengthening the Russian national currency," Suprunov believes.

    In the opinion of analysts, the forthcoming quarter end is customarily the end of an increased demand for rubles because of tax payments. In addition, reinvigoration of the demand may be prompted by an influx of export hard currency earnings.

    The average-weighted dollar rate on the MICEX in tomorrow calculations is 28.5121 rubles to the dollar, showing a 0.57-ruble increase from Monday. The rate of the euro has increased by 18.83 kopecks to 35.1842 rubles to the euro. For March 17 the Bank of Russia has set these currencies' rates relative to the ruble at 1 dollar equaling 28.5121 rubles and 1 euro equaling 35.1127 rubles.

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