November 20, 2014 / 8:13 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 2-Rouble rallies on taxes and oil, rouble stocks hit 2014 high

(Adds details and comment, updates prices)

MOSCOW, Nov 20 (Reuters) - The rouble rose strongly on Thursday, supported by end-of-month tax payments and a firmer oil price, while the MICEX index of Russian stocks touched a 2014 high.

At 1430 GMT, the rouble was 1.1 percent stronger against the dollar at 46.34 and 0.9 percent firmer at 58.25 versus the euro.

Russian exporters are forced to sell foreign currency to meet monthly tax payments near the end of each month. Mineral extraction tax falls due on Nov. 25 and profit tax on Nov. 28.

The rouble was also supported by a firming oil price, with Brent crude gaining to $78.8 per barrel as markets weighed the possibility of OPEC cutting production at a key meeting on Nov. 27.

"If OPEC takes a decision to reduce volumes this will have a notable (positive) impact on the rouble, but for the time being it will probably trade sideways," Grand Capital analyst Sergei Kozlovsky said in a note.

Analysts also said President Vladimir Putin and central bank officials may have calmed the rouble by saying they would not let speculators drive its moves.

"Apparently, those verbal interventions this week by the central bank ... continue to have an effect," said Gleb Zadoya, head analyst at Profit Group investment house in Moscow. "Nevertheless, it would be premature to speak about a sustainable strengthening of the rouble."

Traders said that speculative pressure against the rouble had eased since the central bank floated it last week making it less predictable, with overall trading volumes low.

Russian stocks also traded higher on Thursday, with the rouble-based MICEX hitting a 2014 high of 1,532 points, before falling back, still up 0.2 percent on the day at 1,521 points.

MICEX has made steady gains over recent weeks as the sliding rouble made rouble-priced shares cheaper in dollar terms, and boosted rouble earnings of major companies with dollar export revenues.

The dollar-based RTS index, helped by the strengthening rouble on Thursday, was up 1.2 percent on the day at 1,034 points.

However, Alfa Forex analyst Andrei Dirgin said in a note that there was a "catastrophic lack of drivers" for Russian stocks, with investors in waiting mode ahead of next week's OPEC meeting.

Shares in bank VTB were up 0.1 percent, almost performing in line with the market, despite it reporting a 98 percent slide in its third quarter net profit.

For rouble poll data see

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see

Russia in graphics: link.reuters.com/dun63s (Reporting and writing by Lidia Kelly, Jason Bush and Vladimir Abramov; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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