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Russian rouble slumps to near 5-month low vs euro as tax period ends


This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

(Updates prices, adds Alfa Bank comment)

By Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW, Dec 1 (Reuters) - The rouble dived on Thursday to a near five-month low against the euro and its lowest in almost seven weeks to the yuan, as the Russian currency was squeezed by the end of a favourable month-end tax payment period.

By 1454 GMT, the rouble had shed 1.4% against the yuan to 8.72, hitting its weakest since Oct. 14.

It was 0.6% weaker against the dollar at 61.32 , earlier clipping a three-week low, and had lost 2.3% to trade at 64.54 versus the euro, its weakest mark since July 7.

While the yuan has been making gradual inroads into Russia for years, the crawl has turned into a sprint in the past nine months as the currency swept into the country's markets and trade flows, according to a Reuters review of data and interviews with 10 business and finance players.

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said interest rate hikes could be scaled back "as soon as December", which pushed the dollar lower.

But the rouble has now lost support from a favourable month-end tax period that usually sees Russian exporters convert foreign currency revenues into roubles to pay local liabilities.

The rouble may also come under pressure from the upcoming price cap on Russian oil, said Alfa Capital analyst Alexander Dzhioev, although this is offset by Russia's balance of payments.

Russia's is on track to post a record high current account surplus this year.

"It is very likely that the rouble will continue to move in the 60-65 corridor against the dollar," Dzhioev said.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 2.5% at $89.1 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were mixed.

"The landscape for the Russian market has been unchanged for several days - the iMOEX index see-saws on sluggish trading activity and it is likely to continue trading without clear growth drivers till the end of December," said BCS World of Investments.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was unchanged at 1,125.1 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.7% higher at 2,189.7 points. (Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Mark Potter)

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