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FILL FLASH Russia Central Bank: Ruble May Further Strengthen In 2nd Half - Report


MOSCOW -(Dow Jones)- The Russian ruble may strengthen in the second half of this year amid higher inflation and stronger inflows of foreign investment, the country's central banker said Friday.

In an interview with the Interfax news agency, First Deputy Central Bank Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said though the ruble could move in either direction, upward pressure on the Russian currency could rise if foreign investment picks up as expected after a new government is formed in May or June and if the external factors remain favorable.

"If our assumptions (about investment and capital inflows) is right and the overall conditions are still favorable, thus causing a high current account surplus, one can expect further pressure on the ruble to strengthen," he said, adding the Central Bank has continued to buy foreign currency, and expects such purchases in March to total $2.6 billion, unchanged from February.

Ulyukayev added he expects foreign investment to grow in May and June, adding that if the formation of the new government, its agenda and personnel appointments, resonate with investors, "we can expect a foreign investment pick-up shortly."

Ulyukayev said he expects Russian consumer price inflation, which had risen to 1.1% since Jan. 1 as of March 14, to pick up in the second half of 2012.

Vladimir Putin, who won a third presidential term in Mar. 5 elections, said last month that inflation may be slightly above the 6% year-end rate the central bank is targeting for 2012.


-By Alexander Kolyandr, Dow Jones Newswires;


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 16, 2012 03:08 ET (07:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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