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MOSCOW: The rouble firmed around 1% on Friday and energy stocks jumped after Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled a new gas deal with China at a meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The rouble was 1% higher at 76.68 against the dollar at 1111 GMT, moving further away from a near 15-month low of 80.4125 hit last week. It firmed 0.6% to 86.75 versus the euro.

The gains came after the rouble lost ground last month amid western fears that Russia could invade its neighbour Ukraine despite Moscow’s numerous promises not to do it.

On Friday, Putin unveiled the new gas deal with China, promising to increase Moscow’s far east exports at a time when Russia is at odds with European customers over Ukraine.

Shares in Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft climbed 3.2%, while Gazprom gained 1.5%, outperforming the benchmark MOEX stock index that was up 1.2% at 3,511.8.

Further gains on the Russian market were, however, limited by geopolitical fears and risks of fresh Western sanctions against Moscow.

The threat of war between Russia and neighbouring Ukraine is the biggest risk for insurers offering coverage during the Olympics as an outbreak of hostilities could force team withdrawals or appearance cancellations, sources say.

Western leaders are continuing talks with Russia, voicing their concerns about Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to Russia for talks on Feb. 7, while German chancellor Olaf Sholz said this week he was planning to meet Putin in Moscow soon.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 1.4% at $92.42 a barrel, near its highest since October 2014 and supporting Russian stock indexes.

The dollar-denominated RTS index rose 2% to 1,461.5 points, paring heavy losses it suffered in January.

“Russian equities can be expected to catch a tailwind today from the improvement in global sentiment after a rally in Nasdaq stock futures overnight following last night’s tech selloff,” Alfa Bank said in a note.

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