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RUB Steadies near 4-Week High, Traders Eye Ukraine Diplomacy

MOSCOW, Feb 10 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble steadied on Thursday, hovering near its strongest in four weeks against the dollar, as traders took stock of a flurry of diplomatic activity that has sought to calm tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.

At 0709 GMT, the rouble was unchanged against the dollar at 74.73 , after touching its strongest mark since Jan. 13 of 74.50 in the previous session.

It had lost 0.1% to trade at 85.34 versus the euro , just shy of yesterday's four-week high of 85.15.

A Russian troop buildup near its border with Ukraine has raised fears of an invasion, something Moscow has repeatedly denied planning. Western leaders have threatened to introduce fresh sanctions on Russia if it makes an incursion.

French President Emmanuel Macron this week said he believed steps could be taken to de-escalate the crisis and called on all sides to stay calm, in between trips to Moscow and Kyiv. 

"With periodic headlines from each camp – West and Russia –hinting the NATO/Ukraine-Russia standoff may have a diplomatic solution, the outlook for the global economic recovery as a market driver takes on a more normal import," BCS Global Markets said in a note.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is scheduled to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later on Thursday. Traders were also keeping an eye on the U.S. inflation report due later in the day.

The rouble ignored data late on Wednesday showing that inflation in Russia accelerated to 8.73% in January, its highest since early 2016.

"The current inflation figures do not change market expectations on the Bank of Russia's policy," said Promsvyazbank analysts. Experts polled by Reuters expect a 100-basis-point hike on Friday. 

Brent crude oil , a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.3% at $91.26 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were edging lower.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.2% to 1,531.5 points, but close to the near four-week high of 1,534.82 hit in the previous session.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.3% lower at 3,629.2 points, below its strongest since Jan. 17 of 3,638.93 points, hit on Wednesday.

Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Carmel Crimmins

Source: Reuters

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