Rouble steadies, weighed by COVID-19 fears; Sistema shares rally

MOSCOW, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble steadied on Friday after slipping to a near one-week low the day before as the global rise in coronavirus cases weighed on risky assets, while support from hopes for a potential COVID-19 vaccine faded.

At 0758 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% firmer at 77.25 versus the <RUBUTSTN=MCX, having hit 77.55 on Thursday, its weakest since Nov. 6.

The rouble showed limited reaction to Russia’s decision to tap the global market for the first time in 2020, raising 2 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in Eurobonds.

Versus the euro, the rouble was steady at 91.23 , far from levels of around 70 seen in early 2020 before oil prices crashed and the coronavirus pandemic spread.

“The decline in oil prices and the weakness of emerging market currencies will put pressure on the rouble,” said Bogdan Zvarich, chief analyst at Promsvyazbank.

Oil prices fell on Friday, pressured by fears about a slow recovery in the global economy and fuel demand due to an accelerating rise in COVID-19 infections, but remained on track for a second straight weekly gain.

Russia reported a record high of 21,983 new coronavirus infections on Friday but authorities spoke against wide-scale lockdowns, promising to send thousands of Russia-made COVID-19 vaccine shots to Moscow and regions.

Markets have generally shrugged off news about Russia’s vaccine. Pfizer’s announcement this week of positive trial results from a COVID-19 vaccine it has developed with Germany’s BioNTech had a relatively brief impact.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 1.3% at $42.96 a barrel.

On the stock market, the dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.6% to 1,231 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.3% lower at 3,018 points.

Shares in business conglomerate Sistema jumped more than 3%, outperforming the market on reports its online retailer OZON was planning to raise $750 million in an initial public offering in the United States.

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$1 = 0.8468 euros Reporting by Anna Rzhevkina; Editing by Andrey Ostroukh and Mark Potter