* Stocks down ahead of U.S. payrolls data
* Rouble eases across board, strong oil prevents deeper fall
By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya
MOSCOW, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Russian stocks and the rouble weakened on Friday, tracking falls on major stock markets ahead of key U.S. employment data later on Friday.
The local market followed a negative opening in Asian indexes and fed off the U.S. market drop in the previous session, and was expected to trade in a range for most of the day until the U.S. data is published at 1230 GMT.
By 0635 GMT, the dollar-based RTS index and the rouble traded MICEX had lost more than 1 percent each, underperforming the broader emerging markets index , which was down 0.6 percent.
"Investors are likely to stay focused on US non-farm payroll data as the central news event of the week, with subdued activity before the numbers are released in the afternoon," analysts at Uralsib said in a note.
A morning gap down in excess of 1 percent in the Russian market is natural as commodities and futures had taken a further hit, they added.
Oil prices remained strong , with Brent crude trading around $114 per barrel, curbing losses in the commodity-influenced rouble, which fell 0.2 percent versus the dollar and the euro to 29.06 and 41.36 roubles respectively.
Versus the euro-dollar basket, the rouble lost 0.2 percent to 34.59 , hovering in the range of 34.15-35.15, where the central bank is believed not to be intervening.
"Today, the market is likely to keep calm, as opening positions ahead of the U.S. data is scary. Much will depend on foreign currency flows, but our market will probably stay around 34.60 against the basket," said Roman Pakhomenko, dealer at Lanta bank.
Russia's central bank bought a relatively-modest half a billion dollars in foreign currency interventions last month, First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said on Friday. The small size of the dollar buying was further evidence that the bank has shifted towards greater exchange-rate flexibility.
Ulyukayev also said last month's market turmoil would not lead to a policy shift in Russia; adding to signs that the central bank will hold rates at its next monthly policy meeting after Brazil surprisingly cut rates this week.
The spread on Russia's dollar bonds over comparable U.S. securities, expanded to 250 basis points from below 240 in the previous session , following a fall in Russia's 30-year benchmark Eurobond's yield to 4.1 percent, a notch away from the 2011 low of 4.04 seen a month ago. Russian Markets Latest Net % Change
Change Change on year
Stocks MICEX 1538.54 -13.04 -0.84 -8.85 RTS 1685.55 -18.31 -1.07 -6.45 London ADRs 942.38 -9.12 -0.96 -4.60 Emrg Mkt Indx 1032.36 -5.64 -0.54 -10.34 MSCI Russia 308.41 -0.62 -0.20 -6.72 Sberbank 84.06 -1.03 -1.21 -19.31 VTB 0.08 -0.00 -1.74 -25.74 Gazprom 175.60 -1.75 -0.99 -9.25 LUKOIL 1726.90 -11.10 -0.64 -0.87 Rostelecom 179.19 -3.84 -2.10 15.05 Dollar/Rouble 29.05 0.05 0.17 -4.97 Euro/Rouble 41.37 0.10 0.23 1.63 Rouble basket 34.59 0.07 0.20 -1.53
Debt Bid Ask %Rtn Coupon Russia 10-yr bond 7.96 7.85 -0.32 7.60
Money market Bid Ask Close Overnight rate 3.55 3.85 3.85
All data taken from Reuters at 0657 GMT. (Reporting By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya, additional reporting by Vladimir Abramov)