The swift decline of Russia's ruble is a "critical" situation that the central bank will take further steps to address in the coming days, the bank's first deputy chairman, Sergei Shvetsov, said Tuesday. The comments come in the wake of the bank's move to hike interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent overnight, which was aimed at saving the ruble from further losses.
"The situation is critical. We could not imagine this in our worst nightmare a year ago," Interfax news agency quoted Shvetsov as saying, according to Channel News Asia. "[The rate hike] will be followed by other measures to stabilize the situation."
The ruble hit a record low against the dollar Tuesday in the latest in a series of setbacks for the Russian currency, signifying that investor confidence in the interest rate hike's ability to prop it up is low, the Wall Street Journal reported. The ruble fell to 74 a dollar Tuesday afternoon before rebounding to 59 a dollar, then falling back below 64. A day before, the ruble lost more than 10 percent of its value, according to the Journal.
The fall of the ruble demonstrates that sanctions against Russia imposed by Western nations are combining with the dramatic recent drop in oil prices to put significant economic pressure on Russia, according to National Public Radio.
The ruble's slide contributed to a minor downward tick in the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500, both of which were down at least 0.1 percent by 10 a.m Eastern Standard Time, while the Nasdaq composite was down 0.3 percent, according to USA Today. The ongoing drop in oil prices has also made investors skittish. West Texas Intermediate crude oil hit a new 5 1/2-year low of $54.39 a barrel Tuesday morning, the newspaper reported.
"The slide in oil continues to drive markets," Barclays said in an Tuesday morning report, according to USA Today.