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The Russian rouble firmed on Wednesday, recovering ground after slipping to a one-week low against the dollar in early trade, continuing to move in a relatively narrow range as exporters gear up to pay supportive month-end taxes.

At 0731 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% stronger against the dollar at 68.87, recovering from 69.32 hit at market opening, its weakest point since Jan. 18.

This week, the rouble has tended to gain for most of the day before sliding lower late in the session during thin evening trade. Veles Capital analysts said the rouble was continuing its sideways movement of recent days on Wednesday.

The unit had gained 0.2% to trade at 75.06 versus the euro. It was unchanged against the yuan at 10.14. The Russian currency typically gains support from month-end tax payments, when exporters convert foreign exchange revenue to pay local liabilities.

A scheduling adjustment means that as of this year, taxes are due in a single payment, which this month falls on Jan. 30.

The rouble is also buttressed by large FX sales by the government, which is offloading up to 3.2 billion roubles ($46.51 million) per day of Chinese yuan, a move analysts say could lead to a vicious circle that sees the rouble strengthen and further reduces the Kremlin’s crucial export revenues.

Russian rouble steady amid competing pressures

The rouble has been under external pressure since a Western price cap on Russia’s oil sales came into force in early December alongside a European Union embargo of Russian oil exports, forcing Moscow to sell at a discount.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 0.3% at $86.4 a barrel. Russian stock indexes were mixed.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.3% to 993.6 points.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was flat at 2,172.1 points.

The finance ministry will hold two OFZ treasury bond auctions later on Wednesday, including a new 2029 issue.

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