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MOSCOW: The Russian rouble firmed on Monday, after slipping to a more than one-week low versus the dollar, as risk appetite made a tentative return, but gains were limited by falling oil prices and the lingering threat of US sanctions.

Russian assets have been under pressure from the sanction threat that intensified in the second half of March when US President Joe Biden said Russian President Vladimir Putin will “pay a price” for meddling in US elections and cyber-hacking, allegations that Moscow denies.

By 1238 GMT, the rouble was 0.3% stronger against the dollar at 76.35, earlier touching 76.74, its weakest since March 24.

The rouble could recover to 76 per dollar on Monday as the geopolitical environment was relatively calm over the weekend and demand for risky assets, including emerging market ones, should be high, analysts from Sberbank CIB said in a note.

The rouble was flat versus the euro, trading at 89.93.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 1% to 1,452.7. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1% lower at 3,521.5.

The rouble is also under strain after NATO voiced concern last week over what it said was a big Russian military build-up near eastern Ukraine and as Russia said a serious escalation in the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region could “destroy” Ukraine.

The currency gained a little after the Kremlin on Monday said Russian military movements near its shared border with Ukraine posed no threat to Ukraine or anyone else.

Earlier in the session, the finance ministry added downside pressure on the rouble by saying it would increase daily FX purchases for state coffers in the month ahead.

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