In the period from April to June 2022, the Russians bought up 400 billion rubles worth of currency on the stock exchange, follows from a review of the risks of financial services published by the Central Bank of Russia. This is a record for the last three years.
According to the Central Bank’s calculations, over the same period in the previous three years, Russians bought foreign currency in smaller volumes: by 50 billion rubles in 2019, by 200 billion rubles in 2020, by 300 billion rubles in 2021.
Almost the only sellers of foreign currency on the Russian market in the second quarter of 2022 were large banks. In total, from April to June, the largest Russian banks sold US dollars and euros worth two trillion rubles on the stock exchange.
Due to the inflow of foreign currency to the domestic market, the ruble strengthened: its exchange rate rose in April-June by 38.2% against the dollar and by 36.5% against the euro, the Central Bank noted. Sanction risks and low demand for foreign currency within the country led to a decrease in dollar and euro rates in the currency swap market. The volume of open positions on currency swaps by the end of June decreased to $15 billion from $62 billion at the beginning of the year.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and subsequent Western sanctions, the Bank of Russia imposed restrictions on currency transactions. Russians were forbidden to buy cash currency, limits on transfers were introduced, and it was allowed to withdraw money from foreign currency deposits within 10 thousand dollars, the rest in rubles.
Some of these restrictions were later relaxed. Now Russians can buy cash dollars and euros in banks only from the money that other people brought to the cash desks of banks, and not earlier than April 9th. From May 20, banks were allowed to freely sell other currencies.