(Bloomberg) -- Iran’s battered currency is starting to recover in the unregulated market as government policies to defend it against U.S. sanctions take effect.

The rial has stabilized, Abdolnaser Hemmati, the head of Iran’s central bank, was cited as saying by the semi-official Iranian Students’ News Agency. It strengthened about 8% in the open market over the past month to 125,450 per dollar, according to prices compiled by Bloomberg from foreign-exchange websites and traders in Tehran.

The advance is a relief for Iranians who watched the currency plummet more than 50% after U.S. President Donald Trump scrapped the 2015 nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions on the nation. The central bank sought ways to protect the currency with measures that include setting up a government-run foreign-exchange platform known as Nima to quell the black market and controlling interest rates offered by lenders.

The rial on the open market is now close to the Nima rate, Hemmati said.

“The central bank’s policies of controlling currency markets and bank interest rates appear to be helping,” said Massoud Gholampour, an analyst at Novin Investment Bank in Tehran. “Demand for foreign currency has dropped compared to last year,” he said, adding that bans on a raft of luxury imports helped as much as $2 billion from being spent on imports.

To contact the reporter on this story: Golnar Motevalli in Tehran at gmotevalli@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dana El Baltaji at delbaltaji@bloomberg.net, Paul Abelsky

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