Ruble Extends Plunge as Investors Unwind Long Bond Positions

Ruble Extends Plunge as Investors Unwind Long Bond Positions

© Reuters.  Ruble Extends Plunge as Investors Unwind Long Bond Positions© Reuters. Ruble Extends Plunge as Investors Unwind Long Bond Positions

(Bloomberg) — Russia’s ruble extended it’s slump and bonds retreated as investors offloaded holdings amid a wave of uncertainty created by the latest round of U.S. sanctions.

The dropped 2.1 percent to 64.345 per dollar, extending a slide this week to almost 8 percent. The yield on local-currency debt jumped to 7.69 percent, the highest level since November.

The harshest U.S. penalties on Russia yet have left investors guessing about future targets, spurring them to unload long positions built up in recent months in ruble assets. Foreigners held about 34 percent of Russia’s local-currency sovereign bonds before the selloff, a record share, according to central bank data.

“The market was caught off guard, with many funds overweight Russian stocks, bonds and currencies,” said Morgan Harting, a portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein LP in New York. “It may be that keeping the rationale vague is part of the U.S. strategy — leaving investors more uncertain about what comes next and more apprehensive about doing business in Russia.”

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Russia’s Finance Ministry canceled its weekly bond auction for the first time since the oil price crash in 2015. Auctions will resume when the market stabilizes, the ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday, adding that it doesn’t expect the increased volatility to last for long.

The iShares JP Morgan EM Local Government Bond ETF, which lists Russia as one of its biggest components, suffered its biggest outflow since October on Tuesday.

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