UniCredit Unit Halts Buying, Selling Of Belarussian Ruble

MOSCOW (Dow Jones)--UniCredit SpA's Russia unit said it had temporarily halted the purchase and sale of the Belarussian ruble Tuesday, the same day Belarus's central bank stopped selling foreign currency to the country's banks.

"We ask you until further notice not to send us requests for purchasing or selling Belarussian rubles," UniCredit's Russian unit said.

Meanwhile, Priorbank in Minsk, reached by telephone, said it was possible Tuesday to buy the U.S. dollar for 3080 Belarussian rubles or the euro for 4385 rubles, indicating that the local currency is up to 2% weaker than recent central bank rates.

Standard & Poor's Corp. one week ago cut its rating on Belarus's long-term debt to "B" from "B+," warning that the country was rapidly running out of foreign currency and reserves, as residents lined up at foreign-exchange offices in Minsk seeking to convert Belarussian rubles.

Officials have denied a sharp devaluation of the currency.

-By William Mauldin, Dow Jones Newswires, +7 495 232-9192;


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