The Russian rouble weakened on Friday, sliding to lows barely seen since early January, ahead of the central bank's first interest rate decision of the year, at which a 16% hold is expected after months of rate hikes.

At 0724 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% weaker against the dollar at 92.39, its lowest level since Jan. 4, bar two sessions, on Jan. 16 and Feb. 9, which saw sudden, sharp spikes that traders attributed to an algorithmic trading error by a major player.

It was steady against the euro at 99.31 and had firmed 0.1% against the yuan to 12.72.

Economists polled by Reuters this week expect the central bank to hold rates after 850 basis points of hikes in five meetings since July, but with analysts divided over the signal the bank will give to the market.

The central bank will announce its rate decision at 1030 GMT and Governor Elvira Nabiullina will shed more light on monetary policy and other issues at a news conference at 1200 GMT.

The rouble has lost some support this month as the state slightly reduced its daily FX sales, but should get a boost as exporters convert foreign currency revenues to pay taxes later in the month.

Brent crude oil, a global benchmark for Russia's main export, was down 0.2% at $82.69 a barrel.

Russian stock indexes were higher.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 0.2% to 1,116.1 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 0.2% higher at 3,273.2 points.

For Russian equities guide see

For Russian treasury bonds see (Reporting by Alexander Marrow Editing by Gareth Jones)