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US Hedge Funds’ Confidence in Russian Currency Reaches Three-Year Peak

© Fotolia / sergey_pRussian ruble
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American hedge funds have gone bearish on the ruble to the maximum in three years. In March, the Russian national currency has grown by 6.5 percent, a record high since last April.

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The number of ruble long positions has reached its peak, according to data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

As for March 15, the number of short position in rubles at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange dropped from 3,203 to 797, with a spread of 5,782.
Since then, oil prices have rebounded by over 50 percent. On March 18, Brent traded over $42 a barrel in London. 

During this month, the ruble strengthened by 6.5 percent, a record high since last April. On January 21, the ruble reached a record low of 86 against US dollar. In two months it jumped to 68.35/$1.

Earlier this year, hedge funds and large speculators went bullish on the Russian currency. As for January 19, the number of ruble long positions was 657, against 651 in the previous week.

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At the time, Juan Prada, a foreign-exchange strategist at Barclays Plc, said this was more likely "profit taking" after the huge drop in currency.

Since January 19, large speculators have been optimistic about the ruble for eight weeks in a row. As of March 8, the number of ruble long positions reached 2,601, against 1,842 in the previous five days.

Since the beginning of the year, ruble has performed the best among developing markets’ currencies, according to Bloomberg.

"The ruble is highly correlated with oil, and if we see oil resuming its decline, we might probably see bearish sentiment regarding the ruble again," he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Amid the oversupply in the global crude market, oil will be volatile between $25-45 a barrel, according to a report by Morgan Stanley analysts. Hedging and stockpile movements may cap WTI growth at $40-45 a barrel.

According to Morgan Stanley’s outlook, if Urals crude is at $34 a barrel the deficit of the Russian budget will reach 4.2 percent of GDP. If Urals rises to $40 a barrel in 2017 Russian GDP is expected to grow by 0.9 percent while the inflation rate will slow down to 6.7 percent.

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