World Economy

Can Russia do anything to stop the ruble’s slide?

Manisha Jha, Special to

The Russian economy has come under attack this week as the falling oil price and a rate hike by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) failed to arrest the free-fall in the ruble. However, some experts have warned that investors should not wait for immediate action from Moscow.

The ruble dropped to a new low of below 57 against the dollar Friday on the back of tumbling oil prices which fell to below $60 per barrel level on continued concerns over muted demand outlook and global supply glut.

Russian 1000 rouble currency banknotes
Simon Dawson | Bloomberg | Getty Images

This double whammy hit the country's equity markets with Russia's MICEX stock index opening weak before recovering to close at 1,459.68 points, up 0.32 per cent.

To prop up the weakening ruble, which has fallen by over 65 per cent against the dollar this year, the CBR raised the interest rate by 1 per cent to 10.5 per cent on Thursday – the latest in a series of hikes throughout the year in an attempt to rein in inflation and bolster the country's struggling economy, which is also battling sanctions from the West.

Read MoreWhere now for the Ruble?

However, Timothy Ash, head of emerging markets research at Standard Bank said that defending the ruble and fighting inflation were very low in the list of CBR's priorities.

"Don't expect the CBR to ride to the ruble's defence, with big rate hikes or FX (foreign exchange) intervention, the ruble will track oil, and find its own level," Ash said.

"I think there is some concern that the marked weakening in the rouble will create some systemic risk to banks and of a payments crunch, but the view likely is that by conserving FX reserves, these can be deployed later to 'pick up the pieces'," he added.

Read MoreRussia central bank hikes rates as ruble tanks

There are growing concerns about the strength of the Russian economy. The World Bank on Tuesday revised down Russia's growth projections for 2015/2016. It now predicts that the Russian economy will contract by 0.7 percent in 2015.

In about the last week, the MICEX has seen a fall by 7.7 per cent to 1,459.68 points from 1,582.08 points.

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