Rouble firms, Russian stocks stage tentative recovery after rout

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

MOSCOW, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The rouble strengthened on Tuesday and Russian stocks halted a geopolitics-induced slide after sinking to their lowest for several months, as voting in referendums that could see four Ukrainian regions annexed by Russia neared its conclusion.

At 0736 GMT, the rouble was 0.5% stronger against the dollar at 58.09 and had gained 0.4% to trade at 56.05 versus the euro. It had firmed 0.3% against the yuan to 8.099.

President Vladimir Putin's partial military mobilisation order has buffeted the rouble and stocks in the last week. Stocks have slumped on fears of more sanctions against Moscow, while the currency, though volatile, has remained strong, supported by capital controls and a month-end tax period.

But that period, which usually sees Russia's exporters convert their foreign currency earnings into roubles to pay to the treasury, is coming to a close and analysts say the support it brings will wane.

"Previously, the Russian currency strengthened against the backdrop of a shorter period of converting foreign revenues, as exporters delayed foreign currency sales in the hope of a weaker rouble rate in the second half of September," said Otkritie Research in a note.

"Within a week, the dollar could return to the level of 60 roubles or slightly higher."

Meanwhile, voting is due to end on Tuesday in the Ukrainian provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, and the Russian parliament could approve their annexation within days. Kyiv and the West have dismissed the referendums as a sham and pledged not to recognise the results.

Russian stock indexes were lower, but far less volatile in early trade than they have been for the last week.

"Today, we see a chance for the Russian stock market to take a breather, but it is still too early to say that the worst is over," said BCS Global Markets.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1% higher at 1,952.8 points, stopping the rot after plunging to its lowest point since Feb. 24, the day Russia sent troops into Ukraine, in the previous session.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 1.5% to 1,058.6 points. (Reporting by Alexander Marrow, editing by Ed Osmond)