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Ruble falls below the weakest in 1998

THE ruble fell below the weakest level seen in the 1998 Russian crisis yesterday after the central bank devalued for the sixth time in seven days to protect reserves.

The currency slid to as little as 32.95 per United States dollar yesterday, the lowest since early 1998, before the government defaulted on US$40 billion of debt. The ruble has lost 7.3 percent since official trading resumed this year on January 11 as Bank Rossii cut the ruble 6.7 percent against its target dollar-euro basket, Bloomberg News said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pledged last month to use the nation's foreign-exchange reserves to avoid "sharp" currency swings, after the 71 percent decline against the dollar in 1998 caused investors to flee and savers to pull bank deposits.

The stockpile, the world's third-largest, has fallen by US$171.6 billion to US$426.5 billion since August, as policy makers sold currency to cushion a 29-percent drop against the dollar.


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