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Rouble Hits new High vs Dollar ahead of Press Conference

MOSCOW, Dec 23 (Reuters) - The rouble firmed to its highest in more than a week against the dollar on Thursday, ahead of President Vladimir Putin's annual news conference amid lingering concerns about a standoff between Russia and the West over Ukraine's NATO aspirations.

At 0731 GMT, the rouble was up 0.6% against the dollar at 73.33 , its strongest since Dec. 13.

It gained 0.5% to trade at 83.10 versus the euro .

Russia has moved tens of thousands of troops near to the border with Ukraine but rejects Ukrainian and U.S. charges that it may invade as early as next month, while saying it will be forced to act if Western powers do not stop military cooperation with its neighbours.

"On the geopolitical front, the West and Russia are standing their ground, even ratcheting up the war of words; however, headlines brought a ray of hope – the U.S. has signalled a willingness to start talks with Russia next month," BCS Global Markets said in a note. 

Risk appetite has also improved, with investors more optimistic over the global economic recovery after data on Wednesday showed a better-than-expected uptick in U.S. consumer confidence and as some concerns over the severity of the Omicron coronavirus variant eased. 

The rouble may test the level of 73 versus the greenback on Thursday, said Promsvyazbank analysts. A tax period that usually prompts export-focused companies to convert their FX revenues into roubles to meet local liabilities, is also supporting the currency, they said.

Brent crude oil , a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was unchanged at $75.31 a barrel after earlier clipping a 10-day high.

Russian stock indexes were mixed.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.2% at 1,604.5 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.3% lower at 3,736.1 points.

Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

Source: Reuters

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