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RUB Firms ahead of Inflation Data; China Tech Stocks Gain

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Russia's rouble led gains among its emerging market peers on Wednesday ahead of inflation data later in the day, while stocks in the region hit a more than two-week high buoyed by strong gains in Chinese technology shares.

The rouble rose 0.3% to firm past the key 75 mark against the dollar, gaining for the eighth consecutive session, helped by oil price strength and recent diplomatic talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on the political and military tensions surrounding Ukraine.

Russia's annual consumer price inflation for January is estimated to rise to 8.8%, according to a Reuters poll of economists, ahead of its monetary policy meeting due on Friday where expectations are for a hefty 100 basis point hike as the country struggles to reign in inflation pressure.

"Inflation is running on a high and volatile plateau, with volatility prone to increase owing to President Putin's "useful tension" approach to the present geopolitical crisis," Christopher Granville, managing director at TS Lombard, said in a note.

"Renewed increases in these core inflation measures – plausible enough against the overheating backdrop – would prompt a 100 basis point policy rate hike, and continued stability would still necessitate a 50 basis point step."

MSCI's index of emerging market stocks rose 1.2% to breach a two-week high with Chinese technology names making most of the gains. Hong Kong-listed tech stocks rose 3.8%, helped by a 6.6% jump in index heavyweight Alibaba.

Most other emerging currencies firmed slightly against a steady dollar, with the Turkish lira being the outlier, down 0.2%.

In Central and Eastern Europe, most currencies gained against the euro with Hungary's forint , Poland's zloty and the Romanian leu up about 0.1% each, while the Czech crown slipped 0.1%.

Poland's central bank raised its benchmark rate by 50 basis points to 2.75% on Tuesday and flagged more tightening ahead as it looks to combat surging inflation pressures.

Romania is expected to hike interest rates by 25 bps later in the day.

Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich

Source: Reuters

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