March 15, 2019 / 8:00 AM / 7 months ago

Russian rouble firms as tax payments kick in

MOSCOW, March 15 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed on Friday, helped by month-end tax payments that usually prompt export-focused companies to convert their foreign currency to meet local liabilities.

Taxes could amount to as much as 2.9 trillion roubles ($44.3 billion) this month, nearly double February’s level, a Reuters survey of eight analysts showed.

At 0744 GMT, the rouble was 0.2 percent stronger against the dollar at 65.41 and 0.1 percent firmer at 74.04 versus the euro.

The rouble is likely to hover within a range of 64.50-65.00 against the dollar in the near term, said Dmitry Polevoy, chief economist at Russian Direct Investment Fund.

“Despite a lower correlation between the FX rate and oil in the past months, the rouble still receives substantial support from the oil market in the conditions of a geopolitical lull,” Rosbank analysts said in a note.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, rose 0.3 percent to $67.45 a barrel, hovering near its 2019 high of $68.14 touched the day before.

Russian stock indexes edged higher.

The dollar-denominated RTS index rose 0.2 percent to 1,184.5 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index gained 0.1 percent to 2,460.3. points.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

$1 = 65.4098 roubles Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Mark Potter

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