The state-linked news agencies, as well as Iranian currency-tracking website Mesghal, said the rial was trading in the free market at 28,500, much stronger than levels near 37,500 early in the week.

But dealers in Tehran and Dubai, a major center for business with Iran, told Reuters there was almost no trade in the free market because rates indicated by state media were not commonly accepted.

The mass of Iranians obtain hard currency for business and foreign travel, and to protect their savings against inflation which is widely believed to be running above 25 percent, from the free market.

Money changers in Tehran “tell us not even to call them to ask the price of currency. They say they are not giving rates,” a merchant in the capital said by telephone. He declined to be named because of the political sensitivity of the issue.