Russian rouble slips on lower oil prices, higher state FX purchases


MOSCOW, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble weakened on Friday, dragged down by falling oil prices and pressure from increased state purchases of foreign currencies.

At 0710 GMT, the rouble was 0.27 percent weaker against the dollar at 59.34 and had gained just 0.03 percent to trade at 69.71 versus the euro.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.16 percent at $62.10 a barrel, held back by a strengthening U.S. dollar.

In the period from Dec. 7-28, the ministry plans to buy a total of 203.9 billion roubles ($3.46 billion) of foreign currency on the Moscow Exchange.

The Russian central bank also said late on Thursday it would continue gradual rate cuts throughout 2018 but does not expect the impact from previous cuts to be visible until the new year.

VTB analysts said they expected the regulator to cut its key rate from the current 8.25 percent at its next rate-setting meeting on Dec. 15.

"We expect the Central Bank of Russia to deliver a 25 basis point cut at the policy meeting next week and to stick to gradual easing throughout 2018, lowering the key rate to 7.0 percent by the year-end," they said in a note.

"However, our macro team recently noted that some inflation gauges already point to a pick-up in the pace of price growth. Inflation is likely to pick up further in Q1 2018, limiting the potential for front-loading rate cuts."

Russian stock indexes rose higher.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.29 percent to 1,122.9 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index, previously known as MICEX, was 0.55 percent higher at 2,114.6 points.

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