MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s finance ministry is expected to increase purchases of foreign currency in February to a record high as oil prices rise, according to a Reuters poll.
The median forecast of eight analysts polled by Reuters was for the ministry to buy an equivalent of 292.5 billion rubles ($5.26 billion) between Feb. 7 and March 6, up from a record 257.1 billion rubles in January.
Analysts expect the finance ministry to buy an average 13.92 billion rubles per day during this period. The finance ministry is expected to publish the volume of foreign-exchange purchases for February on Feb 5.
Russia started buying foreign currency early last year to beef up its reserves.
“The main factor of the increase (of purchases) was the rising Urals price,” Stanislav Murdashov, an analyst with Raiffaisenbank, said.
Urals, Russia’s blend of crude oil URL-E, was trading at $67.84 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude LCOc1, the global benchmark, was at $69.53 after climbing to three-year highs over $71 per barrel at the end of January.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has said his ministry planned to increase purchases of foreign currency in 2018, spending a total of around 2 trillion rubles if Urals prices are at $54 to $55 per barrel.
($1 = 56.1475 rubles)
Reporting by Zlata Garasyuta, writing by Polina Nikolskaya, editing by Katya Golubkova, Larry King