Russia's central bank makes surprise interest rate cut to 15% from 17%

Russia's central bank cut Friday its main interest rate to 15 percent from 17 percent in a move that caught markets by surprise, sending the ruble tumbling.

"The Bank of Russia Board of Directors decided to reduce the key rate from 17.00 to 15.00 percent per annum," the central bank said in a statement, saying this was "aimed at averting the sizeable decline in economic activity against the background of negative external factors." The ruble fell on the news to more than 80 against the euro and more than 70 against the dollar.