Russian rouble seen recovering in 2021 along with economy

The rouble lost more than 20% of its value against the greenback in 2020, hammered by a drop in prices for oil, Russia's key export, and an increased sanction risk

  
An employee holds 1000 Russian Roubles notes at Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 11, 2019.

An employee holds 1000 Russian Roubles notes at Goznak printing factory in Moscow, Russia July 11, 2019.

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW - The Russian rouble is expected to strengthen next year while the economy will return to growth following a contraction in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices, a poll of economists and analysts showed on Friday.

The consensus forecast of 17 analysts and economists suggested the rouble will trade at 70.30 against the dollar and 83.30 versus the euro 12 months from now.

The rouble lost more than 20% of its value against the greenback in 2020, hammered by a drop in prices for oil, Russia's key export, and an increased sanction risk.

In early 2020, before the economic crisis sparked by the coronavirus and a crash in oil prices, the rouble had traded at around 62 against the dollar and 70 per euro.

In late October the rouble came under pressure from the looming U.S. presidential vote on Nov. 3, as investors feared that a potential Joe Biden victory over Donald Trump may bring extra sanctions against Russia.

The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the rouble along with other emerging market currencies. On Friday, official exchange rates set by the central bank were 78.87 per dollar and 92.60 per euro.

"We expect the rouble to firm in the first quarter to 74-76 against the dollar and 87-89 versus the euro," said Kirill Sokolov, chief economist at Sovcombank.

The rouble is seen regaining ground when geopolitical risks abate, taking advantage of a broader recovery on emerging markets should a COVID-19 vaccine becomes globally available.

In 2020, Russia's oil-dependent economy will contract by 4.2%, before growing by 3.2% in 2021, the poll found. The previous poll in late September gave the same consensus forecasts.

The Russian central bank was widely expected to keep its key interest rate at a record low of 4.25% by the end of this year, trimming the cost of borrowing to 4% by the end of next year. September's poll gave the same outlook.

Most of the forecasts in the Reuters poll were based on at least 10 individual projections.

(Writing by Andrey Ostroukh Additional reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya Editing by David Holmes) ((andrey.ostroukh@thomsonreuters.com; +7 495 775 1242;))

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