THE rouble has plunged for the second day in a row following fresh US sanctions against Russia.

The Russian currency traded above 63 to the dollar for the first time since December 2016, down by more than 4.5 per cent, but has since recovered to 62.5.

The euro briefly went over 78 roubles for the first time since early 2016, when historically low oil prices were hurting the Russian economy.

The US Treasury Department on Friday announced sanctions against seven leading Russian businessmen, 17 officials and a dozen Russian companies, causing sharp share price drops for sanctioned companies – most notably aluminium producer Rusal – but also the wider stock market, particularly banks which may be exposed to the sanctioned firms.

Forbes magazine’s Russian edition estimated that Russian billionaires lost a total of 12 billion dollars on Monday alone.

Russian deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich said planned support for sanction-hit companies will focus on stabilising them to avoid job losses, rather than propping up share prices.