Latest Ukrainian violence hits the country's volatile currency

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Latest Ukrainian violence hits the country's volatile currency

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Ukraine’s currency, the hryvnia, remained under pressure following the fresh violence there, but traders said it could have been much worse.

As much a factor as the street clashes was that Ukrainian importers were allowed to buy dollars on the market again after controls imposed on them by the central bank expired.

The hryvnia has been sinking since the protests began.

The exchange rate against the dollar has been very volatile and is near recent five-year lows.

Russian credit?

News of the latest $2 billion credit from Russia – as it bought Ukrainian eurobonds – failed to shore up financial market confidence and indeed it is unclear if that has happened.

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Monday that Moscow would buy $2 billion of Ukrainian eurobonds this week and a Ukrainian government source had said Kiev expected the money to arrive on Wednesday.

But, asked about the second instalment, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters he could not

That $2 billion was the latest instalment in a $15 billion loan plan agreed in December between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovytch.

Siluanov’s statement that the second instalment would come this week was viewed as a sign Moscow was satisfied that Yanukovich had a plan to curb the protest movement that erupted after his about-turn away from Europe.

The cost of insuring against Kyiv defaulting on its international debts shot up to the highest since December 2009.

‘Liquidity problems’

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said Ukraine has total maturing debt of about $9 billion (5 billion pounds) this year, out of which Ukraine would have to pay the IMF about $3.6 billion, with the main share of payments due in the first half of 2014.

The country also has to pay $600 million in interest on its external debt in the first half and its $1 billion eurobond due in June. But foreign reserves are at an eight-year low of $18 billion after the central bank has spent about 8 percent of its reserves on currency intervention in January alone.

“In the absence of clarity in politics in the next few months, we see risks of liquidity problems,” BofA-ML said in a note to clients.