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22.01.2021: RUB to face more downside risks (Brent, USD/RUB).

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Oil prices were down on Friday and are set to decline further if the official industry data shows an increase in US crude inventories. The ruble has a very slim chance for growth even despite the tax payment period in Russia. Traders are again focused on the prospects of fuel demand as the coronavirus situation is getting worse in many countries worldwide. Rising oil consumption in China in late 2020 boosted crude prices. However, this source of support is fading as a new wave of COVID-19 cases triggered more restrictions in the country. After Shanghai has reported its first locally transmitted cases in two months, the authorities are urging people not to travel during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday. Lately, oil has been balancing between rise and fall. This means that investors were doing everything possible to downplay the short-term negative factors. This did not work out as pessimistic news is coming from China, one of the largest oil consumers in the world. The energy market has slipped into the red ahead of the weekend. The delayed release of the official oil inventories data from the EIA also added to market worries. Although analysts forecast a draw in oil supplies, it is still possible that the report will show a rise in stockpiles. If the bearish data from the API is confirmed, the oil market may enter a deeper correction, retreating further from 11-month highs. In the day session, Brent oil futures with the nearest expiration lost nearly 2% of their value. Over the past to sessions, Brent was trading in the channel between 55 and 56 dollars per barrel. Today, this short-term range is no longer relevant as oil beras have pushed the quote below the level of 55 dollars.
WTI futures for March edged lower by the same value. The price is currently holding near the level of 52 dollars a barrel. Given the current negative tendency, WTI is likely to drop further ahead of the weekend.
The corrective phase in the oil market put the Russian assets under pressure. Besides, the dynamics on foreign stock exchanges support the bearish trend. Today, the background is mostly negative: the US stock futures are falling as well as industrial and precious metals. The US dollar index, on the other hand, makes an attempt to recover. The market started to enter correction yesterday evening. Yet, the ruble managed to stay in the lower boundary of the 73-75 channel against the US dollar. On Friday morning, the ruble couldn’t withstand the pressure from the dollar bulls and dropped to the mark of 75. A sharp rise in the dollar/ruble pair can be also caused by profit taking before the weekend. The ruble is trading in the red on Friday, losing nearly 1% against its American counterpart. The pair is expected to stay in the range between 73 and 75 rubles per dollar but the risk still persists. If the situation worsens, the US dollar may even test the resistance at 74.7. In case of a breakout, it will head for the 76 area.

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