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Russian rouble eases in early trade, stocks stay near recent highs

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MOSCOW — The rouble eased back from the 60 mark against the dollar and euro in Moscow trade on Friday, while Russia’s benchmark MOEX stock index hovered near a more than three-month high clipped early in the session.

At 0719 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% weaker against the dollar at 60.40 and had lost 0.5% to trade at 60.20 versus the euro.

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Promsvyazbank analysts said the rouble would remain in the 60-61 range against the greenback on Friday.

The rouble spent most of August near 60 per dollar. Volatility has subsided since it hit a record low of 121.53 per dollar in Moscow trade in March, soon after Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. It then rallied to its strongest in seven years of 50.01 per dollar in June.

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So far this year, the rouble has been the world’s best-performing currency https://emea1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/Apps/NewsServices/mediaProxy?apiKey=6d416f26-7b24-4f31-beb6-1b5aa0f3fafb&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffingfx.thomsonreuters.com%2Fgfx%2Frngs%2FGLOBAL-CURRENCIES-PERFORMANCE%2F0100301V041%2Findex.html, buoyed by emergency capital controls rolled out by the central bank in a bid to halt a mass sell-off. This helped to avoid an economic meltdown that many had predicted.

However, the central bank said Russian banks had lost a combined 1.5 trillion roubles ($24.86 billion) in the first six months of 2022, disclosing banking sector earnings on Friday for the first time since February.

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Russian stock indexes surged to their highest in recent months this week, buoyed by gas giant Gazprom’s board recommending the payment of 51.03 roubles ($0.8456) per ordinary share in dividends on the first half of 2022.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.4% to 1,273.9 points, just off a near two-month high hit in the previous session. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.2% lower at 2,441.9 points, earlier touching 2,450.48 points, its strongest mark since May 20.

“Investors may want to cash in ahead of the weekend, though we still believe that the iMOEX remains in a growing trend,” said BCS Global Markets in a note. ($1 = 60.3500 roubles) (Reporting by Alexander Marrow Editing by Gareth Jones)

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