Ukraine hikes benchmark interest rate to 30 percent in bid to halt devaluation, inflation

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's central bank has sharply hiked its benchmark rate to 30 percent, from 19.5 percent, as financial authorities seek to reverse the rapid devaluation of the national currency.

National Bank chairwoman Valeria Gontareva said Tuesday that the measure was aimed at tempering panic in the currency market and reining in inflation.

Gontareva has previously projected that inflation in Ukraine this year will reach 26 percent. Market watchers consider that a low estimate.

The rate increase is to take effect Wednesday.

Ukraine's central bank last raised the refinancing rate last month, from 14 percent.

The hryvnia has since the start of the year plummeted from 15 against the dollar to 25 on Tuesday. It regained some of its losses since the weekend, when it stood at around 30 against the dollar.

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