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Apple halts Russia online sales as ruble tumbles

Apple said Tuesday it had halted online sales of iPhones, iPads and computers in Russia as the ruble’s plunge made it difficult for sellers of imported goods to fix local prices.

The US consumer electronics giant suggested the halt was only temporary and only related to the country’s currency crisis, which has seen the ruble plummet 20 percent against the dollar this week and about one-third in a month despite Moscow’s attempts to defend it.

“Due to extreme fluctuations in the value of the ruble, our online store in Russia is currently unavailable while we review pricing. We apologize to customers for any inconvenience,” a company spokeswoman said.

Overnight Monday the Central Bank of Russia ratcheted up interest rates from 10.5 percent to 17 percent to stem the outflow of currency from the country.

But the move resulted in very sharp swings in the currency and it ended Tuesday lower than before the rate hike.

Reports from Moscow said retailers of everything from electronics to wine were having trouble fixing local prices to their goods and Russians were hurrying out to buy before the local prices were increased.

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