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MOSCOW: The Russian rouble firmed on Monday, helped by higher oil prices in a thin market due to the Presidents' Day holiday in the United States when federal government offices, stock and bond markets are closed.

The rouble was 0.17 percent stronger against the dollar at 66.19 by 0740 GMT, and had gained 0.06 percent to trade at 74.88 versus the euro, supported by higher oil prices which jumped to a three-months high.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.65 percent at $66.68 a barrel.

The Russian currency also gained support from local tax payments. These usually prompt export-focused companies to convert their revenues on the market to meet local obligations, which are supportive of the rouble.

Despite the Russian market recovering from last week's fall, the threat of sanctions remains, said Mikhail Poddubsky, an analyst with Promsvyazbank.

Last week the rouble reacted to the introduction of US legislation that would impose stiff new sanctions on Russia over its policy towards Ukraine and allegations that it meddled in US elections.

"We consider the bill in the US Congress to be a big risk for the rouble, and when a date for public hearings will be set, nervousness in Russian assets may begin to manifest again," Poddubsky said.

Russian stock indexes were mixed.

The dollar-denominated RTS was up 0.67 percent at 1,185.39 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.34 percent lower at 2,482.20 points.

Copyright Reuters, 2019

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