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Russian rouble edges higher, market eyes central bank rate decision

MOSCOW, March 23 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble edged higher on Friday, supported by higher oil prices ahead of an expected key interest rate cut by the Russian central bank.

At 0705 GMT, the rouble was 0.14 percent stronger against the dollar at 57.16 and had lost 0.19 percent to trade at 70.59 versus the euro.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was up 0.87 percent at $69.51 a barrel on the back of Saudi plans for global production cuts to be extended into 2019.

The Bank of Russia is widely expected to cut its key lending rate to 7.25 percent from 7.50 percent when it meets later on Friday, according to 21 of 23 analysts and economists polled by Reuters.

The central bank, which embarked on a rate-cutting cycle in 2015, will publish its decision at 1030 GMT. This will be followed by a press briefing with central bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina.

"Today, the central bank's monetary policy meeting is in focus: we expect a 25 basis point key rate cut," VTB analysts said in a note.

Kirill Tremasov, former head of the economy ministry's macroeconomic forecasting department, said a lack of information about the Russian government's plans following a presidential election on Sunday should prompt the central bank to be more cautious.

"We still have complete uncertainty about future economic policy; the plans announced so far to accelerate growth look mysterious, and I would like to know what changes in fiscal policy are waiting for us," he said on his Telegram channel.

Russian stock indexes slipped.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was down 0.82 percent to 1,248.75 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.97 percent lower at 2,263.48 points.

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(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Mark Potter)