With all that’s going on in Russia these days, I’m pretty sure you’ve considered trading the ruble at one point or another. But is it really worth adding the Russian ruble to your forex watch list?
The past year was an interesting one for Russia, as the country was put in the hot seat for supporting the rebel movement in Ukraine. The international community was mostly displeased by this, leading the European Union and the United States to enforce sanctions on Russia’s financial and energy sectors. Eventually, these sparked widespread economic weakness and a massive depreciation for the Russian currency.
With that, the Central Bank of Russia decided to put an end to the ruble’s tumble by announcing an emergency interest rate hike from 10.5% to 17% in December. The Russian Finance Ministry also stepped in and declared that it is prepared to sell $7 billion worth of foreign currency to prop up the ruble. Instead of stabilizing the currency though, these moves resulted to market panic and further currency depreciation!
Forex industry experts explained that the lack of liquidity among ruble pairs was to blame for these volatile price swings. After all, several large banks and financial institutions previously suspended Russian currency settlement as the geopolitical conflict and market uncertainties started to escalate earlier in the year. Later on, forex brokers such as Saxo Bank, IC Markets and GAIN Capital decided to cut leverage for USD/RUB and EUR/RUB while Alpari UK, FXCM, Dukascopy, and AxiTrader halted trading for these currency pairs altogether.
Word through Wall Street lately is that some brokers, such as Alpari Russia and FX Pro, already resumed offering USD/RUB and EUR/RUB on their trading platforms. However, FX Pro clarified in a statement that the ruble is likely to undergo periods of extreme volatility and severely widened spreads since liquidity shortages are often occurring. They added that it is possible for ruble trading to be suspended again, depending on market conditions.
Apart from spot forex, other options for trading the Russian ruble remain available. One of these is the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange’s (DGCX) newly-offered futures contracts on the ruble. According to the exchange’s Interim CEO Gaurang Desai, these emerging markets currency futures represents an important facet of their comprehensive and long-term product strategy, as these would allow businesses to hedge against currency price risks.
For now, the Moscow Exchange (MOEX) is still closed for the holidays, with forex trading operations set to reopen in January 10. While more brokers could also resume offering ruble pairs on their platforms by then, market watchers are still wary that erratic price movements could discourage most traders from trading the Russian currency. If volatility ain’t your cup of tea, y’all better exercise more caution if you’re planning to trade the ruble!