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Russian rouble up ahead of U.S. Congress hearing about sanctions

Kitco News

MOSCOW, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed on Tuesday helped by higher oil prices ahead of a U.S. congressional hearing about sanctions against Russia.

The hearing, to begin at 1500 GMT, is on "the efficacy of major U.S. economic sanctions programs, including those targeting North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela, with a particular focus on Russia," the House financial services committee said.

The committee also said sanctions "have broadly failed to deter Russia's attacks on U.S. interests and its assault on global values."

Mikhail Poddubsky of Promsvyazbank said he expected the rouble to hover around 65.50 to 66.00 against the dollar ahead of the hearing.

"The rouble's dynamic going forward will mostly depend on the tone of the sanctions rhetoric," he said.

At 0749 GMT, the rouble was 0.22 percent stronger against the dollar at 65.71 and had gained 0.14 percent to trade at 74.11 versus the euro.

The rouble was supported by higher oil prices on the back of a better situation in emerging markets.

Brent crude oil , a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.59 percent at $61.87 a barrel.

The announcement of Russian government bonds, known as OFZ, are also in focus on Tuesday as the finance ministry was considering scrapping its usual practice of setting a maximum amount of OFZs on offer. The decision is expected later on Tuesday. "As we interpret it, the ministry is trying to avoid spooking investors at all costs if the ambitious 2.4 trillions roubles borrowing plan is to be accomplished," analysts at Rosbank said in a note.

Russian stock indexes were up.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.44 percent to 1,206.70 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.26 percent higher at 2,516.84 points.

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