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UPDATE 1-Rouble hits two-week high vs dollar after Biden-Putin call

·2 min read

(Adds detail, updates prices)

MOSCOW, April 14 (Reuters) - The rouble pared losses seen in the first half of April and firmed to a two-week high on Wednesday after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin helped to ease fears of imminent new sanctions.

At 0903 GMT the rouble firmed 0.4% to 75.63 against the dollar after hitting 75.4525, its strongest since March 31.

The rouble got a boost after Biden proposed to Putin that they hold a summit to tackle a raft of disputes.

"One headline is enough to send USD/RUB into a spinning dive," Rosbank said in a note.

The market took Biden's proposal to meet Putin "as a sign of a de-escalation of recently increased tensions over the situation in eastern Ukraine", VTB Capital said.

Prices for Russian Eurobonds and treasury OFZ bonds rose after the news. Yields on 10-year OFZ bonds, which move inversely to their prices, fell to 7.13% on Wednesday from 7.35% seen the day before.

The rouble is likely to trade within a range of 75.30-76.40 in the coming days if the geopolitical situation remains calm, VTB Capital said.

The rouble decoupled recently from moves in other emerging markets as well as in the price of crude oil, Russia's key export, as it was hammered by fears about the situation in Ukraine.

Two U.S. warships are due to arrive in the Black Sea this week in response to what U.S. and NATO officials say is the largest massing of Russian forces - with thousands of combat-ready troops - since Moscow seized Crimea from Ukraine.

Versus the euro, the rouble was up 0.3% at 90.46 after hitting 90.2725, its strongest since April 6.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, climbed 1.7% higher to $64.74 a barrel, buttressing Russian stock indexes.

The dollar-denominated RTS index rose 1.9% to 1,486.5 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1.2% higher at 3,567.3 points, moving towards an all-time high of 3,602.18 it touched in mid-March.

Shares in Gazprom outperformed the market by gaining 1.5% after the gas giant said it was considering paying half of its 2020 net profit in dividends.

(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Toby Chopra and Gareth Jones)