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Iranian Rial Climbs 10 Percent as Hopes Grow Over New President

  • Reuters

Iranian banknotes and foreign coins are displayed by a vendor on a Ferdowsi Street sidewalk in Tehran, Jan. 23, 2013.

Iranian banknotes and foreign coins are displayed by a vendor on a Ferdowsi Street sidewalk in Tehran, Jan. 23, 2013.

The Iranian currency, the rial, rose further on Thursday on hopes the country's deep economic crisis could ease under its next president, a relative moderate elected last week.

The rial has strengthened by nearly 10 percent against the dollar since Hassan Rowhani was declared winner of the June 14 vote, according to Iranian currency dealers and websites. The rial was trading at around 33,300 per dollar compared with about 36,300 at the close of business a week ago.

Rowhani's victory brings an end to eight years under hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a period that resulted in intensifying financial pressure on Iran thanks to several rounds of economic sanctions imposed over its nuclear program.

Critics accuse Ahmadinejad of exacerbating the crisis through financial mismanagement and the abolition of an important budget control office during his tenure.

“It [rial rise] is because of the election,” said an Iranian currency dealer based in Dubai. “It'll probably continue next week.” A message posted on a currency dealing website said it expected to see a “moderate or sudden increase” next week.

The rial now hovers at around a third of the value it was at the end of 2011, just before the United States and the European Union levied sanctions on Iran's central bank, almost cutting off the Islamic Republic from the global banking system.

During his campaign, Rowhani, who will take office in August, criticized the state of the large OPEC member state's economy and pledged the creation of a “government of prudence and hope” if elected.

“Looking at the state of the country and urban and rural problems, the young and the old, the students ... everyone knows what problems and social issues we are facing in everyday life,” he said in a campaign interview on state television. “Is there a family out there that isn't affected by unemployment?”

Many countries have welcomed Iran's election of a president with a conciliatory outlook, including regional arch-rival Saudi Arabia. But Riyadh is keen to see Rowhani seek stability in the Middle East and avoid interfering in other states' affairs, a Saudi official was quoted as saying on Thursday.