The Russian ruble made major advances on Wednesday, gaining against the euro and the dollar as investors worried about the lack of progress in talks between European finance ministers and bondholders to resolve Greece’s debt problem.
The ruble, propped up by high world oil prices, with Brent crude currently hovering at about $110 per barrel, surged by 23 kopeks against the euro, sending the single European currency to a five-month low of 39.9624 in MICEX trading, past the psychologically important 40 ruble level.
The ruble also gained 21 kopecks against the U.S. dollar to 30.6752 rubles as of 11:28 a.m. Moscow time (07:28 GMT).
Russia’s ruble-denominated MICEX stock index rose 1.01 percent to 1,503.75, while the dollar-denominated RTS went up 1.71 percent to 1,540.84.
Greece is holding talks with the holders of some 206 billion euros ($260 billion) in Greek sovereign debt, trying to get its creditors to swap government bonds for new securities with half the face value or less. The scope of the debt write-off and a new coupon rate have been a stumbling block in the debt negotiations.
International lenders comprising the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have insisted that the deal is essential for Greece to receive more aid to repay its massive 360 billion euro debt.
Greece faces an important bond repayment deadline in March and European leaders fear that the country might default on its March 20 bond payment, which could trigger panic on the markets.