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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Ruble Keeps Sliding


The ruble fell to a record low against the dollar Thursday as the Central Bank abstained from intervention in the morning session and offered only marginal support on the interbank market, dealers said.

"Ahead of the start of a new month the Central Bank, as it often does, allowed the dollar to rise to begin the month at a new level," said a Commerzbank dealer.

The ruble's weighted average for today settlement fell to 29.1433 per dollar in the key unified session of eight exchanges after 29.0873 per dollar Wednesday.

The Central Bank cut its official next-day rate to 29.14 rubles per dollar after a previous 29.09, based as usual on the results of the unified session.

"The ruble is getting a bit more expensive now," said Moscow Narodny Bank dealer Vasily Ushakov.

Dealers said they expected ruble to fluctuate in the range of 29.13 to 29.20 per dollar next week.

Ushakov added that next week's government bond auction, where the Finance Ministry is to offer 5 billion rubles worth of paper, would worsen ruble liquidity on the foreign exchange market. "The paper is interesting for banks," he said.

Reserves Keep Rising

The Moscow Times

The Central Bank said Thursday that the nation's foreign currency and gold reserves rose to an all-time high of $33 billion for the week ending May 25 after $32.9 billion May 18.

Reserves have risen some 18 percent since the start of the year.

The Central Bank rarely comments on the changes in its reserve level.

$1.2Bln Budget Surplus

The Moscow Times

Russia had a consolidated budget surplus of 69.9 billion rubles ($1.23 billion) in the first quarter, up from 36.3 billion rubles over the same period last year, the State Statistics Committee, citing Finance Ministry figures, reported Thursday.

The consolidated budget surplus was 20.4 billion rubles in March, compared to a deficit of 3.7 billion rubles in February and a surplus of 53.2 billion rubles in January.

Consolidated budget revenues totaled 515.6 billion rubles in the quarter, including 449.5 billion rubles in taxes, up from 366.5 billion and 313.8 billion rubles, respectively, in the same period last year, Interfax reported.

Budget spending amounted to 445.7 billion rubles in the quarter, up from 330.2 billion rubles a year earlier.

'Political' Ford Loan

The Moscow Times

The World Bank is set to give Ford Motor Co.'s factory near St. Petersburg a $100 million loan to help cope with the "significant" political risk in Russia, the Bloomberg news service quoted the bank as saying Thursday.

The plant, currently being built in the Leningrad region, is Ford's first in the former Soviet Union and is scheduled to roll out its first car next year.

The loan, from the World Bank's private lending arm International Finance Co., will "give Ford comfort," an IFC official was quoted as saying.

"Ford wisely is trying to include heavy hitters with good political connections, thus diversifying the risk and involving the Russian government at the highest levels." Bloomberg quoted Ariel Cohen, a Russian expert at the Washington-based Heritage Foundation research group, as saying.

IMF: No Trip Delay


WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday a mission is still on track to visit Russia in the middle of June, denying there had been a delay.

Earlier, a source at the Finance Ministry told reporters the arrival had been postponed until July or August.

"Our current understanding is that the fund mission is to visit in mid-June," IMF spokesman Vasuki Shastry said.

The source said the government received a letter from the IMF informing of the delay, but with no explanation of the reasons behind it. The mission is scheduled to discuss the government budget for 2002 as part of the post-program monitoring framework.

India, Sakhalin Deal

The Moscow Times

The Indian state-owned oil and gas corporation ONGC Videsh Ltd. is planning to invest between $300 million and $400 million in the Sakhalin-1 project in June 2001, Interfax reported company vice president Ramesh Valluri as saying Thursday.

The investment will be in the form of payments of investment obligations by ONGC and Rosneft, from which the Indian company recently acquired a 20 percent stake in the Sakhalin-1 project.

Valluri explained that the right of ownership for the Rosneft share in the Sakhalin-1 project would be legally registered "next month."

Valluri said investment in the Sakhalin-1 project will amount to $1.7 billion over the next 10 years.

Sakhalin-1 involves the development of the Arkutun-Dagi, Odoptu and Chaivo deposits off the north coast of Sakhalin. Estimated reserves at the deposits amount to about 340 million tons of oil and 420 billion tons of natural gas. The deposit is located to the northwest of Sakhalin Island.

Itera, Gazprom Audit

The Moscow Times

Gazprom's board of directors should examine an audit on the gas monopoly's relations with Itera before an annual shareholders meeting June 29, Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref told PricewaterhouseCoopers last week.

Minority shareholders have accused Gazprom management of selling natural gas to Itera at below-market prices as well as transferring potentially valuable assets to the company.

"PwC representatives say they will make every effort to finish work by Gref's deadline," the ministry's press office said. "London PwC employees are working on this as well as those at the Moscow office."

RTS Up 1.58%


Russian shares crept up Thursday after the long hoped-for ouster of Gazprom CEO Rem Vyakhirev and strong first-quarter data from Vimpelcom, but traders said the Gazprom effect was muted by local skepticism.

The RTS index closed 1.58 percent higher at 208.80 on volume of $19.45 million. The broader Reuters Russian composite added 0.96 percent to 1,260.29.

Vimpelcom on Wednesday evening announced a surprise first-quarter net profit of about $5 million after a loss of more than $11 million in the same quarter last year. Vimpelcom's American Depositary Shares were up 1.74 percent at $17.50 after rising more than 14 percent in the previous session.

LUKoil closed up 3.57 percent at $13.05.