(MENAFN - AFP) Russia's ruble hit a four-year low point against the euro on Thursday amid signs of the US Federal Reserves preparing to ease back on a stimulus programme that has helped emerging markets.
The Russian currency fell to 44.33 roubles against the euro early on Thursday -- a level not seen since 2009 -- before gaining back some strength and trading at 44.27 in midafternoon.
It also exchanged hands near a month-old low against the dollar at 33.16 rubles.
The ruble has lost value along with other emerging market currencies on the belief that the Federal Reserve will soon scale back its monthly 85-billion bond purchasing programme.
A statement of the Federal Reserve issued on Wednesday indicated that some board members believed that the easing programme should be rolled back quickly while other stressed "the importance of being patient".
A rollback of the stimulus programme would theoretically raise the yields of US bonds and draw in investors who had previously searched for value in riskier economies.
The Russian central bank's overseer of financial markets dismissed speculation that the ruble would continue a steady decline reminiscent of what occurred in the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
"The ruble is fairly strong and stable," the Prime news agency quoted Sergei Shevtsov as saying.
"Rumours about the weakening of the ruble are being exaggerated by a fair amount."
The Russian central bank has spent hundreds of millions of dollars daily purchasing rubles in the summer months to prop up the currency and avoid a politically-damaging slide.
But Interfax estimated that the ruble between January and July still lost 8.7 percent of its value against the mixed-basket of dollars and euros used by the central bank to gauge the value of its currency.
Shevtsov argued that the ruble was only "fluctuating (in value) because we are moving toward a free-float."
The London-based Capital Economics consultancy noted that the ruble has faired better than the currencies of emerging markets in Asia thanks to the high price on Russia's oil and natural gas exports.
"Nonetheless, the ruble is still weaker than the usual relationship with oil prices would otherwise imply," Capital Economics added.
"We expect the currency to weaken further over the coming months and quarters."