The Russian rouble and stocks gained on Thursday, as the head of the central bank said the currency would remain free-floating and that capital controls should continue to be relaxed.

At 0900 GMT, the rouble was 0.2% stronger against the dollar at 56.84 and had gained 1.3% to trade at 58.99 versus the euro.

Top policymakers used Russia's annual economic forum in St. Petersburg to highlight the rouble's recent strength, with concerns it could weigh on the Russian economy as it tips into recession.

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said the rouble was overvalued and industry would be more comfortable if it fell to between 70 to 80 against the U.S. dollar, the Tass news agency reported.

Central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina defended the bank's rouble strategy, telling reporters the currency should remain floating. She backed further relaxation of Moscow's capital controls - introduced following the imposition of Western sanctions in response to Moscow sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine.

Analysts said the rouble's recent streak to multi-year highs may have run out of steam.

"We think it will struggle to extend its recent rally until next week, when exporters will begin to step up their hard currency sales ahead of tax and dividend payments," said Sberbank CIB analyst Yuri Popov in a research note.

Russian stocks also pushed higher in trading in Moscow.

The dollar-denominated RTS index was up 1.5% to 1,299.2 points. The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1% higher at 2,343.2 points.

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(Editing by Mark Potter)