Rouble steady near strongest levels since 2018 ahead of U.S. non-farm payrolls

MOSCOW, Jan 10 (Reuters) - The rouble was flat against the dollar on Friday, after hitting a 19-month high this week, as investors await U.S. non-farm payrolls data and the signing of the first phase of a trade deal between Washington and Beijing.

At 0759 GMT, the rouble was trading at 61.34 per dollar, close to the 61.08 level it touched on Wednesday, which was its strongest since late May 2018.

The Russian currency slipped against the euro, trading 0.1% lower at 68.13 and hovering near its highest levels since early 2018.

The United States launched a trade war against Beijing a year and half ago over allegations of unfair trade practices, sending shockwaves through global markets.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who announced last month that a “phone one” trade deal with China would be signed on Jan. 15, said on Thursday the agreement could be signed “shortly thereafter.”

The rouble’s highs earlier this week came after the United States and Iran backed away from the brink of conflict in the Middle East, leaving investors to focus on the upcoming U.S.-China trade deal and the U.S. non-farm payrolls report set to be published later on Friday.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was down 0.1% at $65.43 a barrel as of 0803 GMT.

Russian stock indexes were down.

The dollar-denominated RTS index slipped 0.2% to 1,597.6 points, while the rouble-based MOEX Russian index fell 0.3% to 3,109.1 after having hit a record high of 3,124.6 points in the previous day.

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Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Mark Potter