Russian rouble falls to 2-week low, Rusal shares leap on merger talk

* This content was produced in Russia where the law restricts coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

MOSCOW, July 5 (Reuters) - The rouble fell against the dollar to the lowest in two weeks on Tuesday, while shares in aluminium producer Rusal leapt as Russian businessman Vladimir Potanin hinted at a possible merger with mining giant Nornickel.

At 0759 GMT, the rouble was 2.6% weaker against the dollar at 56.68 RUBUTSTN=MCX , its weakest point since June 20. The unit had lost 1.4% to trade at 58.58 versus the euro EURRUBTN=MCX .

The rouble's recent slump from more than seven-year highs hit last Wednesday is just a correction on the market, said Alor Broker in a note.

"It is too early to talk about a break in the rouble's strengthening trend," Alor Broker analysts wrote. "Russia's balance of payments will continue to remain very strong, importers will not recover their positions quickly.

"Only by introducing a new budget rule can the situation on Moscow Exchange's currency market change radically."

The rouble is still the world's best-performing currency Link this year, boosted by measures - including restrictions on Russian households withdrawing foreign currency savings - taken to shield Russia's financial system from Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it calls a "special military operation".

Proceeds from commodity exports and a sharp drop in imports are further factors behind the currency's gains. But the rouble has now lost the support of last week's tax-driven dollar and euro sales.

Expectations of the imminent launch of currency interventions, which Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Russia could turn to as it tries keep a lid on the rouble's strengthening, may continue to pull support from the rouble on Tuesday, said Promsvyazbank analysts.

Potanin, the largest shareholder at Nornickel GMKN.MM , is ready to discuss a possible merger of the mining giant with Rusal 0486.HK amid Western sanctions, he said in an interview with RBC TV.

Rusal's Moscow-listed shares RUAL.MM leapt more than 20% before settling around 10% higher. Shares in En+ ENPG.MM , Rusal's majority shareholder, were 10.5% higher in Moscow. Nornickel shares fell 2.1%.

Russian stock indexes were lower.

The dollar-denominated RTS index .IRTS was down 2% to 1,224.0 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index .IMOEX was 0.1% lower at 2,202.0 points.
Reporting by Reuters

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