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Iranian rial drops to lowest rate since September 2018 against dollar (www.reuters.com)

June 18 (Reuters) – The Iranian rial hit its lowest rate against the dollar since September 2018 on the unofficial market on Thursday, a foreign exchange website reported, amid the worsening economic impact of U.S. sanctions and the new coronavirus outbreak.

The dollar was being offered for as much as 188,200 rials, according to website Bonbast.com, which tracks the unofficial market. The official rate, cited by the central bank website, is 42,000.

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a multilateral deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear programme in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions that have battered the economy.

A drop in oil prices and a slump in the global economy have deepened the economic crisis in the country.

Iran, one of the countries in the Middle East hit hardest by the novel coronavirus, began easing restrictions on normal life in mid-April in order to support its economy.

There has been a recent spike in the number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus, prompting President Hassan Rouhani to warn on Saturday that restrictions could be reimposed.

Iranian officials have said that the U.S. sanctions have hampered their efforts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

The rial lost about 70 percent of its value over several months in 2018 because of a weak economy, financial difficulties at local banks and heavy demand for dollars among Iranians who feared Washington’s pullout from the nuclear deal and renewed sanctions could shrink Iran’s exports of oil and other goods. (Reporting By Babak Dehghanpisheh; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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