MOSCOW: Russia’s central bank on Friday kept its key rate steady as inflation fears outweighed any temptation to use recent rouble strength as an opportunity for a rate cut in a bid to help the economy.
Boosted by a budding recovery in the price of oil, of which Russia is a main producer, the rouble had prior to the announcement crept back up to a 2016 high after slumping on the back of falling oil prices. It was trading at around 68 to the dollar and 76.5 to the euro on Friday.
A stronger currency typically dampens inflationary pressures as imports become cheaper, but the central bank let caution prevail.
“Despite certain stabilisation in financial and commodity markets and a slowdown in inflation, inflation risks remain high,” it said in a statement following a regular board meeting.
The rouble’s slide at the beginning of this year caused the central bank to halt its policy of gradual reductions in the base rate, which it cut four times last year from a high of 17 percent to the current 11 percent.
The bank went for a mammoth rate hike in December 2014 as it battled to stave off a collapse in the currency due to a battered economy.
The reduction in the rate since has done little to help Russia’s recession-hit economy, hurting from a the effects of the oil price slump and Western sanctions over Ukraine.