Russian Central Bank to Offer Loans Backed by Gold

MOSCOW (Reuters)  – Russia’s central bank will offer gold-backed loans for up to 90 days at an interest rate of 7 percent, it said in a statement on Friday, expanding its lending facilities for dealing with any future liquidity crunch in the banking system.

The gold-backed lending was approved by the board of directors at a meeting on Friday. The rate on the facility is in line with the central bank’s Lombard rate on borrowing secured against high-quality bonds.

“This measure fits the central bank’s policy of developing refinancing instruments within the banking system. The facility will be unlikely in strong demand, only at times of liquidity crunches,” said Maxim Oreshkin, chief economist at Credit Agricole in Moscow.

Levels of rouble liquidity remain at comfortable levels for now, with the overnight interbank rate having hovered within 3-4 percent range since early 2010 compared to more than 10 percent seen during the crisis of 2008-2009.

Alexander Morozov, chief economist at HSBC in Moscow, said the new instrument will likely only be used by up to 1 percent of the whole refinancing market in Russia. (Reporting by Douglas Busvine and Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Lidia Kelly)

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