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    Business

    Currency in a special regime

    The volume of net transactions with foreign currency of the largest Russian banks fell more than five times in June. This reduction was caused by the new trading regime for the dollar and euro, transactions for which entered the over-the-counter market.

    In June, when the Moscow Exchange came under strict American sanctions (see Kommersant on June 13), systemically important banks sharply reduced operations on the exchange’s foreign exchange market. This follows from the review (.pdf) of the risks of the Central Bank's financial markets published on July 9. It notes that “SZKOs, traditionally the main agents for the sale of foreign exchange earnings of exporters on the exchange market, have significantly reduced the volume of net sales of foreign currency from 671 billion rubles. in May to 126.8 billion rubles. in June.”

    At the same time, since April 2022, the largest banks have acted as net sellers of currency on the exchange, the average volume was RUB 530 billion. The list of systemically important banks (13 banks in total) mainly includes banks under strict sanctions, which cannot conduct transactions for corporate clients with “toxic” currencies either on or off the exchange. Therefore, the bulk of their transactions were in Chinese currency. Of these, only GPB, RSHB, Raiffeisenbank and Unicredit Bank are not included in the American SDN list. However, apparently, they were also forced to reduce a significant part of transactions due to the cessation of exchange trading in the dollar and euro in the second half of the month.

    At the same time, non-financial organizations remained the main net sellers of foreign currency on the exchange.

    In June, they accounted for RUB 265.4 billion, which was slightly different from the May figure of RUB 268 billion. Probably, non-financial companies were more active in selling currency not to banks, but directly on the stock exchange. At the end of June, the government relaxed the requirements for the mandatory sale of foreign currency earnings by Russian exporters: from July 21, 2024 to April 30, 2025, they will need to credit only 60% of the currency received to special accounts in authorized banks, and not 80%, as was previously the case. In June, as noted in the Central Bank's review, net sales of 29 companies from among the largest Russian exporters amounted to $14.6 billion.

    According to the chief macroeconomist of Ingosstrakh-Investments Management Company Anton Prokudin, “ After the introduction of restrictions, the chain of settlements using the yuan on the Moscow Exchange probably changed. Only this can explain why it is no longer banks that are actively selling foreign currency.”

    Credit organizations that are not included in the list of systemically important ones, as noted in the Central Bank review, have increased the volume of purchases of foreign currency on the stock exchange up to RUB 335.8 billion. versus RUB 285.9 billion. in May. In turn, non-resident banks reduced net purchases of foreign currency on the exchange by 63%, to RUB 139 billion. “At the same time, on the over-the-counter market, on the contrary, they increased their net purchases, purchasing foreign currency for RUB 440 billion. (in May, purchases amounted to RUB 236 billion),” notes the regulator. However, according to Anton Prokudin, after some time all currency trading may become over-the-counter.

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