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Floating rouble slumps near floor

THE ROUBLE yesterday slumped to its lowest level ever as Russians reeled from the backwash of Monday's shock decision to devalue the currency. On the main Moscow exchange Micex the rouble was fixed at 6.885 to the dollar - down from 6.43 on Monday before the devaluation was announced. On the street, some banks were quoting rates for ordinary customers as low as 9.5, the new effective floor fixed by the Russian central bank for the currency.

Shares were also badly hit, falling 9 per cent in woefully thin trade, while the debt market, which will bear the brunt of any restructuring, saw yield soaring 12.5 per cent.

All eyes are now on Friday's emergency meeting of the Russian legislature, the Duma, which is under mounting pressure internationally to agree tougher measures to help the government get its deficit under control.

However, economists warned that the tide of popular opinion in Russia is running against more austerity.