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Russian Rouble, Stocks Recover as Cenbank Rate Meeting Looms

MOSCOW, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed on Thursday, moving away from its weakest level in more than a week, and stocks rose amid higher oil prices as the market awaited the central bank's last rate-setting meeting of the year.

At 0808 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% stronger against the dollar at 73.56 , after touching its weakest point since Dec. 7 of 74.3750 in the previous session. Versus the euro, the rouble was flat at 83.14.

The rouble is expected to firm towards the lower part of the range of 73 to 74 on Thursday, Promsvyazbank analysts said in a note.

The rouble gains on the prospect that the central bank could raise its key interest rates sharply on Friday by up to 100 basis points to fight stubbornly high consumer inflation, its main area of responsibility.

Households' inflationary expectations for the year ahead, an important indicator tracked by authorities, rose in December to 14.8% from 13.5% one month earlier, the central bank data showed on Thursday, adding to chances of a sharp rate hike.

Higher rates make investments in Russian assets more appealing, but they can have a negative impact on economic growth by making lending more expensive.

The rouble's upside, however, is limited by geopolitical risks as the West is concerned about Russia's military build-up near the border with Ukraine. Moscow dismissed such concerns, saying it has the right to move its troops within Russian territory as it deems necessary.

Brent crude oil , a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 1% at $74.59 a barrel, shrugging off fears about the Omicron coronavirus variant that threatens to dent oil consumption globally.

Russian stock indexes were up.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian gained 2.8% to 3,724.5 points, recovering from its lowest point since mid-April of 3,532.29 it hit on Tuesday. The dollar-denominated RTS index was 3.6% higher at 1,596.2 points.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

Source: Reuters

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