MOSCOW, April 30 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble firmed to a three-week high against the dollar on Thursday, helped by a recovery in oil prices and improved global risk appetite amid the gradual easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions in parts of the world.
At 0819 GMT, the rouble was 0.4% stronger against the dollar at 72.71 RUBUTSTN=MCX, a level last seen on April 9, but hovered far away from levels of 62-64 seen before the sell-off on the oil market began in early March.
Against the euro, the rouble was 0.4% firmer at 79.07 EURRUBTN=MCX, ahead of Russia's long May holidays.
The Moscow Exchange will be closed on Friday and will partially reopen for trading on Monday.
Oil prices jumped on Thursday, buoyed by signs that the U.S. crude glut is not growing as quickly as expected and that fuel demand battered by COVID-19 restrictions is starting to pick up. O/R
Brent crude oil LCOc1, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 7.9% at $24.31 a barrel.
The rouble may strengthen past 72.50 against the dollar later in the day, said Dmitry Polevoy, chief economist at the Russian Direct Investment Fund.
The Russian central bank has been supporting the rouble, which has lost more than 16% of its value against the dollar so far this year, by selling foreign currency from state reserves in its first interventions since early 2015.
The bank sold 20.4 billion roubles ($280.57 million) worth of foreign exchange on Tuesday, its data showed on Thursday.
The economic outlook, however, remains gloomy. Russian manufacturing activity has sunk to a record low in April as factory closures and lockdowns in response to the coronavirus epidemic strangle production.
Russia's nationwide tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surged past the 100,000 mark on Thursday after a record daily rise in new cases, days after President Vladimir Putin warned the peak of the outbreak was yet to come.
Russian stock indexes were mixed.
The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS rose 0.5% to 1,150.6 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.3% lower at 2,656,9 points.
The MOEX index is expected to hover closer to the upper boundary of the 2,650-2,700 range but may nod lower as investors may prefer to lock in profits ahead of the long weekend, said Bogdan Zvarich, chief analyst at Promsvyazbank.
For Russian equities guide see RU/EQUITY
For Russian treasury bonds see 0#RUTSY=MM
($1 = 72.7100 roubles)
(Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by Alex Richardson)
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