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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Imports Leap to $24Bln

MOSCOW (MT) Imports in the first half of the year jumped 18.1 percent while exports rose 4 percent over the same period in 2000, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said in a report released Thursday quoted by Interfax.

Exports totaled $51.4 billion for the first half, while $24.1 billion worth of goods were imported.

The import categories with the highest growth included leather shoes up 200 percent and cotton fabrics, clothing and alcoholic, which were all up 150 percent. Furniture imports rose 34 percent, Interfax reported.

Reserves Hit $36.2Bln

MOSCOW (Reuters) Russias foreign currency and gold reserves edged up to a new post-Soviet high of $36.2 billion on July 27 from $36.0 billion on July 20, the Central Bank said Thursday.

The Central Bank has recorded an increase in hard currency and gold reserves for 16 of the last 17 weeks, during which time reserves have risen $6.2 billion.

Markets Float

MOSCOW (Reuters) Key Russian shares showed little clear direction by the close Thursday, edging just higher, but oil share Yukos stood out again as it was well traded and slipped lower.

The key RTS index edged up a tiny 0.67 percent to 196.39, while the Reuters composite rose 0.21 percent to 1,289.84. RTS reported volume was $12.56 million.

Yukos saw turnover of $5.67 million, closing down 1.46 percent at $3.38. It has been active in the last two days after news of a $200 million convertible bond issue.

Analysts have said that in the long term the issue is favorable as it would probably take shares out of the hands of Yukos managers and put them on the market. However, they still had feared a short-term squeeze on liquidity in the stock.

The rest of the market lacked focus, dealers said. "There isnt much of a market to speak of today," said a Western trader.

$2.6Bln Yukos

MOSCOW (MT) Yukos last week insured its production units Yuganskneftegaz, Tomskneft and Samaraneftegaz with Rosno for $2.6 billion, Vedomosti reported Thursday.

The companies had not been insured previously.

Rosno first deputy general director Leonid Melamed said the company had won a tender conducted by the Russian branch of brokers Heath Lambert in which three other insurance companies, including Yukos own subsidiary, Progress-Garant, participated.

The insurance amount is in line with an audit of the companies conducted by Suregrove Ltd. in April 2001. Insurance will cover property and possible production interruptions at the extraction companies.

Sibir-Vnukovo Stalled

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) A Moscow arbitration court has halted the merger of top airlines Sibir and Vnukovo after ordering the former to pay a debt of 4 million rubles ($136,000) to Vnukovos former ticket agent, the company Yuridicheskaya Aviatsionnaya Sluzhba, or Legal Aviation Service.

The court decision halting the merger until the debt is paid came into effect Tuesday.

When Sibir took on Vnukovos debt obligations as part of the merger procedure it failed to settle with Yuridicheskaya Aviatsionnaya Sluzhba.

Sibir plans to dispute the ruling.

"The amount was for less," said Mikhail Koshman, head of Sibirs advertising and public-relations department.

Final Mazheikiu OK

VILNIUS, Lithuania (Reuters) The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday approved legislative amendments needed for Russias Yukos to take 26.85 percent of Mazheikiu Nafta, the only oil refinery in the Baltic states.

MPs approved the amendments allowing any investor to take more than 24 percent of Mazheikiu on a 98-0 vote with nine abstentions, a parliament spokesman said.

Late last month, the government approved the equity deal, concluded in June with Mazheikius U.S. operator Williams.

Under the terms of the deal, Yukos would inject $75 million into Mazheikiu and guarantee the supply of 4.8 million tons of crude annually over 10 years in return for 26.85 percent of the company and seats on the board.

Ukraine Bond Bulls

LONDON (Reuters) Ukraines 2007 dollar bond should see more buyers now it has been added to J.P. Morgan Securities Emerging Market Bond Index plus, analysts said Thursday.

J.P. Morgan added Ukraine to the industry benchmark Wednesday with a weighting of 0.54 percent. The bond, a product of a previous restructuring, had met JPMs liquidity requirements being quoted consistently on a minimum number of broker screens and shown sufficiently narrow bid-ask spreads.

Including Ukraine in the index "will attract more attention to the credit and potentially generate some buying," said Marcin Wiszniewski, emerging market bond strategist at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in London. "The volume of trading in Ukraine has been increasing because the fundamental situation in Ukraine has been improving," said Wiszniewski.

Ukraine signed a debt-reduction pact with the Paris Club on July 13, posted a 9.2 percent year-on-year growth rate in June, and said Central Bank reserves were at a three-year high of $2.078 billion on July 20.

Markets have been worried about Ukraines ability to pay its debts since an economic crisis and bond restructuring triggered by Russias 1998 financial crisis.

Druzhba Carries Less

MOSCOW (Reuters) Crude exports through the Druzhba pipeline to Central Europe fell to 33.268 million tons, or 1.15 million barrels per day, in January to July 2001 from 35.019 million tons in the same period last year, Energy Ministry data showed Thursday.

However, seaborne crude exports through the principal ports used by Russia rose in January to July 2001 to 46.244 million tons from 41.167 million tons in the same period of 2000.

Gas Output Falls

MOSCOW (Reuters) Natural gas output fell in January to July 2001 to 335.402 billion cubic meters from 342.556 bcm in the same period of 2000, the Energy Ministry said Thursday.

Preliminary data prepared by the ministrys central dispatch unit showed that gas giant Gazprom produced 296.323 bcm of natural gas in January to July, down from 307.879 bcm in January to July 2000.

Oil companies extracted 18.416 bcm of gas in January to July 2001, the three largest producers being Surgutneftegaz with 6.401 bcm, state company Rosneft with 3.485 bcm and LUKoil with 2.104 bcm.