April 17, 2018 / 4:02 PM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-Rouble down under geopolitical pressure

(Adds detail, updates prices)

MOSCOW, April 17 (Reuters) - The rouble weakened in volatile trade on Tuesday after a brief attempt to regain ground, as the market continued to digest the implications of U.S. sanctions imposed against Russia.

The U.S. envoy to the United Nations said on Sunday Washington was preparing further sanctions on Russia, though administration officials said on Monday President Donald Trump was unlikely to approve new measures unless Moscow carries out a new cyber attack or some other provocation.

The rouble eased 0.6 percent to 61.52 against the dollar as of 1517 GMT, after briefly touching the 60 mark, its strongest level since April 9, when the sanctions-driven sell-off gathered steam.

“Geopolitics will continue to have a serious impact on the Russian market in the mid- and longer-term,” analysts at Bank St Petersburg said in a note.

“Non-residents remain worried about the prospects of a sanctions race and their impact on Russian assets,” they said, adding that the rouble was likely to trade within a range of 61-63 per dollar in the coming days.

The United States on April 6 imposed sanctions against Russian entities and individuals to punish Moscow for its alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and what the U.S. Treasury Department dubbed other “malign activity”.

Moscow has denied the allegations. Washington is now considering further sanctions over Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict, while Moscow’s possible reaction to the U.S. measures has added to risk aversion in Russian markets.

Last week, Russian lawmakers reacted to the U.S. sanctions already announced by proposing a wide list of retaliatory measures. But with Russian businesses warning that they could hurt Russia more than the West, a decision on the counter-measures has been postponed until mid-May.

On the stock market, shares in Sberbank, Russia’s top lender that on Tuesday promised to double dividends for 2017, rallied 8.0 percent.

Shares in Russian aluminium producer Rusal, targeted by the latest U.S. sanctions, rose 8.3 percent. Still, Rusal shares were nearly 40 percent cheaper than before the U.S. sanctions.

The benchmark rouble-traded MOEX index climbed 1.9 percent to 2,184.5, retaining support from prices for oil, with Brent crude oil rising 0.1 percent to $71.5 a barrel.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see (Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Vladimir Abramov Editing by Gareth Jones)

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