Russia's currency fell to a multi-month low against the U.S. dollar, as bond yields rose and stocks tumbled, after the Kommersant newspaper printed the draft of Senate bill that proposed new U.S. sanctions on state-owned banks.
The draft appears to outline details of bi-partisan bill, co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Robert Menendez, that was introduced to the Senate last last week following President Donald Trump's controversial summit in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The legislation, which Graham touted as the "sanctions bill from hell", would limit new government bond sales, tighten rules on energy and oil projects and place new restrictions on Russian oligarchs.
"The current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections," Graham said at the time, referring to last year's Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that Trump ultimately signed into law.
Sberbank, Russia's biggest lender, was marked 4.2% lower in mid-afternoon trading in Moscow, while domestic rival Bank VTB fell 2.16%. The rouble, meanwhile, slumped to 75 against the euro, the lowest level since May 8, and fell 2% to 64.743 against the dollar, the lowest in nearly two years. The average spread of Russian government bond yields compared to U.S. Treasuries rose 6 basis points to 2.06%, the highest since July 19. Russia's benchmark Moex stock index was marked 1.05% lower in late afternoon trading, trimming its year-to-date gain to around 8.4%.
The bill not only represents the most significant effort to date to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 Presidential elections, it also comes amid a notable escalation in Special Counsel Robert Muller's investigation into those charges, and calls from the President himself to have what he calls a "witch hunt" shut down.
Russia's lawmakers vowed last month to introduce their own retaliatory sanctions against the U.S. if Congress deepens its own response to last year's bill, with Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the State Duma committee for international relations, noting that "On Capitol Hill, [U.S. lawmakers] can't make peace with the fact that even the leadership doesn't see Russia definitively as an enemy."
"Evidently, these proposals have to do with internal political struggle, which intensified after the Helsinki summit and is aimed in part to limit the actions of President Donald Trump," he added.