Rouble rises towards 50 vs dollar, first time since May 2015

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

MOSCOW, June 29 (Reuters) - The Russian rouble rallied on Wednesday to its strongest levels in more than seven years, nearing 50 against the dollar for the first time since May 2015.

The rouble has become the world's best-performing currency this year, boosted by measures - including a ban 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.

Proceeds from commodity exports, a sharp drop in imports, and pending tax payments in roubles by export-oriented Russian firms are further factors behind the currency's gains.

At 0724 GMT, it was up more than 3% to 50.22 against the dollar on the Moscow Exchange after hitting 50.01.

Against the euro, the rouble added 3% to 52.89, climbing beyond 53 for the first time since April 2015.

Just before Russia embarked on what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, the rouble traded near 80 to the dollar and 90 against the euro. At that time it traded in free-float mode and, unsupported by capital controls, got hammered due to fears of sanctions.

The strong rouble dents Russia's income from selling commodities and other goods abroad for dollars and euros, and Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov said this month that industry would be more comfortable if it fell to between 70 to 80 against the dollar.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by John Stonestreet)