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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Precious Metal Exports

MOSCOW (Reuters) — President Vladimir Putin has signed a long-expected decree allowing gold and silver producers to make direct exports of these metals, a senior government official said Thursday.

"The decree on the rules for imports and exports of precious metals and gems was signed on June 21," said Sergei Gorny, deputy head of Almazyuvelirexport, the state precious metals and gems trading agency.

"The decree, which also abolishes export quotas on gold and silver, will become effective two months after its official publication," he added.

But he was unable to say when the publication would take place.

Currently, producers can sell gold and silver only to the Gokhran state repository or to banks.

Gold industry analysts said the decree would have no significant market impact.

"I shouldn’t think it will have a huge impact on the market because all the major exporters would already have sorted out their exports [via Gokhran]," one analyst said. "If there is an internal market but they still want to export, they will be hit by a 6.5 percent export tax."

Rosno Lifts Allianz

FRANKFURT, Germany (Reuters) — Insurers Munich Re and Allianz surged Thursday, one day after Allianz took a ground-breaking step into Russia and rival Zurich sparked optimism on U.S. earnings.

Both stocks gained roughly 3 percent on the day on the DAX blue-chip index.

Allianz sparked investor interest after buying a 45 percent stake in Russian insurer Rosno on Wednesday for an undisclosed sum, making it the first Western insurer to take a major stake in a leading Russian insurer.

The deal was viewed as small but ground-breaking as other insurers were shy of the unquantifiable risks associated with the Russian market.

"The acquisition of [the] Rosno stake gives Allianz an excellent distribution network in Russia," Sal. Oppenheim analyst Michael Haid said in a research note Thursday. "We see the Russian market with a strong growth potential."

EBRD Invests $21M

MOSCOW (Reuters) — The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Thursday it had bought a minority stake in Danone’s factory in Russia for $21 million.

"The transaction, one of the EBRD’s largest equity investments in Russia to date, will help meet the growing demand for quality fresh dairy products in Russia," the EBRD said in a statement.

"It should also encourage the restructuring of the Russian agricultural sector by providing stable demand, financing and know-how transfer to the farmers that supply Danone Industria."

Reserves Hit High

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Foreign currency and gold reserves rose $500 million to a new all-time high of $34.2 billion in the week to June 22, the Central Bank said Thursday.

Reserves have grown 22 percent from $28 billion at the beginning of this year.

S&P Ups Ratings

LONDON (Reuters) — Credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s on Thursday raised the long-term ratings of Moscow and St. Petersburg to B from B minus, matching an earlier upgrade of Russia’s sovereign credit rating.

S&P said in a statement it had also raised its senior unsecured debt rating on the St. Petersburg to B from B minus. The rating outlook for both cities remains stable.

It affirmed the long-term ratings of several other municipal credits, including the Samara, Irkutsk and Sverdlovsk regions, Bashkortostan and Tatarstan republics and the autonomous region of Yamal-Nenets.

S&P said Russia’s sovereign rating upgrade reflected 2001’s strong economic performance and progress on structural reform. Earlier, the agency also upped cellphone operator Mobile TeleSystems to B from B minus, and put its ratings for oil giants LUKoil (CCC) and Tatneft (CC) and diamond monopoly Alrosa (CCC plus) on review for a possible upgrade.

3 Beef Bans Called Off

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has lifted a ban on meat and livestock imported from France, Ireland and the Netherlands because of diminishing concerns about foot-and-mouth disease in those countries, the Veterinary Service said Thursday.

Russia introduced a ban on all meat, poultry, fish and dairy products from the European Union in March because of fears of importing foot-and-mouth and mad cow diseases. The move sent domestic meat prices soaring.

The ban was later relaxed to include only meat and live animals. In May it was lifted on imports from Belgium, Luxembourg and parts of Holland and Ireland.

France and the rest of Ireland and the Netherlands have now also been exempted from the ban, according to a statement from Russia’s chief veterinary inspector, Mikhail Kravchuk.