S and P warned this week there was at least a 50 percent chance it would cut Russia’s sovereign rating below investment grade within 90 days. Moody’s ratings agency warned this week that Russia’s GDP could contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 and 3 percent in 2016 due to weaker oil prices and the ruble’s slide.
Russia’s annual inflation was at 10.4 percent and could reach around 11 percent by the end of the month, surpassing the psychologically key 10 percent mark for the first time since the 2008/09 global financial crisis.
Prices for some goods, such as beef and fish, have risen 40 to 50 percent in recent months after Russia slapped an import ban on certain Western food products in retaliation for European Union and U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.
Russians have tracked the exchange rate closely since the collapse of the Soviet Union, when hyper-inflation wiped out their savings over several years in the early 1990s. The central bank had to spend heavily in recent months to prop the currency.
Last week, Russia’s gold and foreign currency reserves dropped by as much as $15.7 billion to below $400 billion for the first time since August 2009 and down from over $510 billion at the start of the year.
Analysts said around $5 billion were spent on propping up the ruble, while around $7 billion was due to foreign currency loaned to banks as part of repo operations, meaning the money will be returned to the regulator at a later stage.
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