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Rouble firms past 3-wk high vs dollar, Putin-Macron talks in focus

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By Reuters

MOSCOW -The Russian rouble recovered to a more than three-week high against the dollar on Monday on the back of robust oil prices, though its gains were capped by tensions over Ukraine.

At 1134 GMT, the rouble gained 0.5% to 75.44 against the dollar, its strongest level since Jan. 13.

The most likely range for the rouble in coming days is 74.50-76.50, Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at LockoInvest, said.

Versus the euro, the rouble firmed 0.6% to 86.38 .

The rouble has moved away from a near 15-month low of 80.4125 hit last month when Western powers threatened to impose more sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied having any such plans.

The market will be keeping an eye on President Vladimir Putin’s meeting with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday. The Kremlin said there could be an announcement about the meeting after 1600 GMT.

Traders will also be looking ahead to Friday, when the Bank of Russia is widely expected to raise its key interest rate from 8.5% in its fight against stubbornly high inflation.

Higher rates support the rouble by making investment into rouble-denominated assets more attractive.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.4% at $92.90 a barrel but traded near its highest levels since 2014 of $94.00 it reached earlier on Monday. [O/R]

Russian stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index rose 1.1% to 1,451.3 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.2% higher at 3,477.8 points.

Shares in top Russian lender Sberbank rose 0.4% on the day to 257.7 roubles ($3.41) per piece after the bank said its net profit increased by nearly 16% to 100.2 billion roubles in January under the Russian accounting standards.

“We remain Buyers and see significant fundamental value which is currently being overshadowed by geopolitical risk,” Citi bank analysts said of Sberbank results.

($1 = 75.5130 roubles)