Ukraine exchange flops

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The Independent Online
KIEV (Reuter) - Ukraine's first currency exchange opened yesterday but not a single dollar, rouble or Ukrainian coupon changed hands. About 10 brokers at the inaugural session sat quietly around a table in the central bank headquarters.

'This was only the first step to creating a currency market in Ukraine,' Oleh Andronov, the head of the exchange, said of the reluctance of the four banks present to take part in operations.

A range of prices were scrawled on a blackboard for the coupon, Ukraine's interim currency pending introduction of a separate currency, the hrivnya. Some prices were hastily withdrawn immediately after being offered.

The session opened with an offer of 205.5 per dollar, well below the street rate, which has climbed in recent weeks to about 340.

Russia's rouble, accepted at par in shops, is worth about 1.4 coupons on the black market operating openly on Kiev streets. The rouble fell from 205 to 241 to the dollar on Moscow's foreign exchange yesterday.

Trading in Kiev is to resume on tomorrow and to be held thereafter once a week, with the rate established to be declared official for all banks throughout Ukraine.

Mr Andronov said he expected that traders would eventually deal with up to dollars 5m at each session.