Russian rouble gains past 84 to dollar

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Russian rouble gains past 84 to dollar

The Russian rouble strengthened back past 84 to the dollar on Thursday, as short selling curbs were lifted, with the market focused on what Moscow's demand for gas exports in roubles will mean.

The rouble was a 1.6% stronger against the dollar at 83.21 and had gained 1.4% to trade at 92.85 against the euro by 0738 GMT.

The Russian currency is extending gains last week after President Vladimir Putin demanded that natural gas be paid for in roubles, a move that has galvanised European countries into action.

Veles Capital analysts said that investors are waiting for a resolution to the situation with rouble payments for Russian gas, and probably other goods.

On Wednesday, two Reuters sources said Russia planned to keep the contract currency for gas exports in Europe unchanged but would seek final payment in roubles as one of the options to switch the currency of gas trade, moves that may ease some traders' concerns.

The dynamics driving the rouble lately are to some extent artificial. The currency, which had been free-floating until late February, is now being steered by capital controls, a ban on buying cash dollars and euros, and other administrative measures.

The rouble bids reached as strong as 75 against the dollar in the previous session and were hovering around 80 on Wednesday. The rouble was at 82 to the dollar on the electronic platform of the EBS.

Russian stock indexes were higher. The ban on short selling was lifted on Thursday, but the central bank limited it to shares in 83 enterprises and only to banks and brokers.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 3.6 at 983.5 points, its highest since Feb. 24, the day Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

The Russian MOEX index was higher by 3.4%, at 2,597, according to the rouble-based MOEX. 1 points.

Shares of the energy giant Gazprom went up by 3.4%. Shares in sanctioned lender VTB were 7% higher, while flag carrier Aeroflot reversed early losses to gain 1.2% on the day.