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    ROUBLE UP AGAIN VS. US$

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    MOSCOW, March 18, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The US dollar came 3 kopecks down vs. the rouble today, with its overall retreat before the euro, that dominated the day in Asian markets.

    The dollar came roughly 3 kopecks up vs. the rouble within the two preceding day now to cede its tiny victory in a complacent market with small transactions.

    "Nothing to write home about," Roman Frolov, RosEuroBank dealer, commented the day in the currency market, what with an supply/demand balance as rates were making token ups and downs within a 2-3 kopeck limit.

    The Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange may offer export return currency in an avalanche at the month's end, and experts think the rouble will come higher up against the dollar, especially as world petroleum prices are beating records. That makes all the more necessary Central Bank rouble interventions to curb the rouble upswing. They are now at R28.485-28.5/$1, and dealers think the Central Bank will stay at that all through this spring.

    Export returns are exchanged into roubles even now-but bankers prefer to do that bypassing the currency exchange. Hence modest transactions at the unified trading session of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange. It had today- and tomorrow-oriented deals at R28.513-28.5225/$1 and R28.49-28.52/$1, respectively.

    The Central Bank of Russia is keeping the rouble advance down, and was acquiring currency today at R28.49/$1. Dealers see its sobering efforts as principal influence on the Russian market, as far as rates go.

    Bears are hard put with the Central Bank's presence- but so are bulls, remarked Mr. Frolov.

    The Central Bank rate for tomorrow is R28.5005/$1 and R35.0585/euro 1.

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