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Kazakhstan central bank to allow gradual KZT devaluation if oil prices below $50

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Kairat KelimbetovKairat KelimbetovOil-dependent Kazakhstan will allow gradual devaluation of tenge national currency in case crude oil price gets bellow $50 a barrel, National Bank chief Kairat Kelimbetov told a press conference in Astana on February 12.

Yesterday during the enlarged meeting of the government President Nursultan Nazarbayev assigned the National Bank a number of tasks, including avoidance of sharp tenge fluctuations, reports.

Mr Kelimbetov, however, noted that there are no macroeconomic prerequisites so far for the depreciation of the KZT against the USD. He said today's KZT-USD exchange rate that stands around 185 tenge per dollar is optimal.

Kazakhstani tenge has recently been under pressure due to crude oil price fall and the devaluation of Russia's ruble.

On 11 February 2014, the National Bank decided to devalue tenge by 19% and at the same time set tenge-dollar exchange rate at the level of 185 tenge per 1 dollar plus / minus 3. In September of the same year, the National Bank has expanded the corridor to 170-188 tenge per 1 dollar.

On 9 February 2015, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said the National Bank of Kazakhstan “will either allow a gradual depreciation of the tenge or undertake another step devaluation this year, to accommodate lower oil prices and to ease the tenge's appreciation against the ruble (against which it has appreciated by around 50% in nominal terms since last year's tenge devaluation).”

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services on Monday cut its credit ratings on Kazakhstan, Bahrain, Oman and Venezuela, citing the impact of plunging oil prices on the oil producing nations. The rating firm issued negative outlooks for Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, indicating possible downgrades. It affirmed its ratings on Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Cameroon.

The rating changes follow a sharp fall in oil prices in recent months. S&P now assumes an average Brent oil price of $55 a barrel this year and $70 a barrel over the next three years, compared with its December projection of $80 a barrel in 2015 and around $85 a barrel through 2018.


February 12 2015, 12:30

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