February 11, 2020 / 2:33 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Russian rouble climbs away from 10-week low on hopes of virus easing

(Updates prices, adds Sberbank share price, background)

MOSCOW, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble gained on Tuesday, following oil prices and other emerging-market currencies, as China’s senior medical adviser said the coronavirus epidemic may reach a peak this month before beginning to subside, soothing global markets.

By 1417 GMT, the rouble was 1.2% stronger against the dollar at 63.38, pulling away from Monday’s 10-week low, and had gained 1.2% to trade at 69.16 versus the euro .

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia’s main export, was up 2.4% at $54.6 a barrel.

Zhong Nanshan, an 83-year-old Chinese epidemiologist who became famous for combatting the SARS epidemic in 2003, said he was optimistic the outbreak would soon slow and be over by April, with the number of new cases already declining in places.

Chinese authorities reported on Monday a daily drop in the number of new cases of coronavirus for just the second time in two weeks, but as China’s death toll from the epidemic soared past 1,000, concerns grew over the extent of disruption to the world’s second-largest economy.

“Investors remain focused on coronavirus headlines,” VTB Capital analysts said in a note.

Also attracting market focus is U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who is expected to sound fairly upbeat about the outlook for U.S. economic growth when he testifies on Tuesday and Wednesday in Congress, despite the Fed’s current policy being criticised by President Donald Trump.

“Powell’s speeches in the House and Senate today and tomorrow are in the centre of attention after Trump’s criticism,” Rosbank analysts said in a note.

The dollar eased ahead of Powell’s speech, giving the rouble extra room to grow.

Russian stock indexes were up, after falling to five-week lows on Monday.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 2.5% to 1,541.5 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1.3% higher at 3,101.7 points.

Shares in Russia’s largest lender Sberbank were up 2.2% after the finance ministry said it would tap into its National Wealth Fund to buy the central bank’s stake in the bank at market price.

Meanwhile, state gas company Gazprom shares jumped 3.9% after it released financial data for 2019 and said it expects gas exports to grow by 34% in the next decade.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Reporting by Alexander Marrow, editing by Larry King and Ed Osmond

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