UPDATE 1-Rouble eases past 72 vs dollar, stocks down

(Updates with rouble losses, adds detail)

MOSCOW, Oct 13 (Reuters) - The rouble eased on Wednesday and stocks declined after the finance ministry held weekly bond auctions and President Vladimir Putin said Russia was ready to help ease Europe’s energy crunch.

Hovering most of the day steady against the dollar, the rouble shed 0.4% to 72.09 by 1607 GMT and fell 0.7% to trade at 83.41 versus the euro.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.2% at $83.30 a barrel, erasing earlier losses as surging fuel costs for power generation offset expectations that demand growth will wane.

The gas crisis in Europe was in focus as Putin dismissed accusations that Russia was using energy as a weapon, saying it was “just politically motivated chatter”.

Higher gas prices mean Russia could receive an extra $21 billion in liquidity in 2022, which suggests the rouble is likely to average 68.3 against the dollar next year, 2.5% stronger than previously thought, Sberbank CIB said in a note.

The rouble is set to receive support from the central bank that is likely to raise rates for the sixth time this year on Oct. 22 as inflation, its main area of responsibility, hit its highest since February, 2016.

Inflation is a sensitive issue in Russia as stubbornly rising prices hit living standards already dented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this week, Putin ordered his government to study new social support measures to soften the hit from higher prices, though higher social spending could further spur inflation.

“We expect CBR to revise its inflation and policy outlook during its October meeting and raise the key rate another 50 basis points to 7.25%,” Sova Capital said.

Russian stock indexes were down after hitting record highs.

The dollar-denominated RTS index fell 0.8% to 1,855.1 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.5% lower at 4,243.9 points, though still near its all-time peak of 4,284.53 hit on Monday.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh; Editing by David Clarke and Ed Osmond