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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

China, Russia Oil Deal

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Chinese and Russian companies have signed an agreement to jointly explore for and develop oil resources in eastern Siberia, the official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.

China National Petroleum Corp.'s Daqing Oil Field Corp. signed the agreement with two Russian companies, Yukos and Rosneft, to develop oil fields in the Irkutsk and Sakha regions, it said.

Xinhua did not say when the agreement was signed.

Daqing would provide technology and funding for a $10 billion project to develop oil fields located in Siberia about 1,000 kilometers from the Chinese border, it said.

Futures Trade

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's main dollar-traded bourse, the Russian Trading System, is planning to launch trade in futures based on two new indices, officials said Thursday.

Alexei Savatyugin, the director of the RTS-Interfax agency, which will calculate the new indices, said one index would be made up of the RTS's seven most liquid shares, such as oil shares and utility UES, to prevent index manipulation.

The second index will be made up of four oil shares: Surgutneftegaz, LUKoil , Yukos and Tatneft. Savatyugin said local shares in Gazprom would be included in the index of liquid shares when the government carries out a plan to liberalize the market in the stock.

Grain Forecast Up

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia said Thursday it had increased its forecast for this year's grain harvest to 80 million tons from a previous 75 million to 76 million tons and hailed 2001 as a "successful year."

"We can now say the harvest will be around 88 million tons in bunker weight, which means the harvest in clean weight will be around 80 million tons, some 15 million tons more than last year," Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev told reporters.

Reserves Up $700M

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's foreign currency and gold reserves rose $700 million in the week ending Sept. 21 to a new post-Soviet high of $37.8 billion, the Central Bank said Thursday.

Koehler to Visit

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- International Monetary Fund Managing Director Horst Koehler is coming to Moscow in early October on his first visit to Russia since he obtained the post, Russia's IMF representative Alexei Mozhin said Thursday.

Koehler, whose visit is to last from Oct. 9 to 12, will meet President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, Mozhin said.

Vietnam Oil Loan

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government said Thursday it would grant a $250 million state loan to the company building Vietnam's delayed first oil refinery, the Russian-Vietnamese joint venture VietRoss.

The funds will be pumped through state-owned Vneshekonombank and used predominantly to finance the delivery of Russian equipment, the government said in a statement.

The credit for the refinery, which will cost a total of $1.3 billion to build, is to be used from 2002 to 2004 and paid back between 2005 and 2013.

The refinery was due for completion in 2002 or 2003, but Russia said the opening would be delayed for two years due to difficulties in selecting the proper equipment and raising funds.

Retail Alliance

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Looking to bolster their interests in the face of increased competition from big-name Western chains, local companies are joining to form the Retail Companies Association, the inaugural meeting of which is to take place Oct. 8.

A total of 100 companies have been asked to join -- including Sedmoi Kontinent, Perekryostok and major department stores GUM and TsUM.

The aim of the association is "to unite the efforts of Russian retail companies to protect the interests of national retail," said a source in one of the companies.

Zoellick to Moscow

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick headed to Moscow on Wednesday to discuss Russia's eight-year bid to join the World Trade Organization, along with other economic issues.

"I am looking forward to making progress on our trade discussions with Moscow," Zoellick said in a statement ahead of the three-day visit.

OPEC Supply Limits

VIENNA, Austria (Reuters) -- OPEC ratified an agreement Thursday that leaves oil supply limits unchanged, delaying until November any fresh effort to lift crude prices out of a slump.

Even traditional price hawks among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries nations have been forced to revise lower their sights on oil prices under the threat of an imminent global recession.

"Now I am comfortable with $22 because the OPEC basket price is about $20, and $22 is better than $20 for us," said Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

Ministers agreed Wednesday to keep production at 23.2 million barrels a day for 10 member countries and kept their official price target range intact.

BBH Ups Stake

MOSCOW (Vedomosti) -- Baltic Beverages Holding on Wednesday snapped up a 10 percent stake in Krasnoyarsk's Pikra brewery for $8 million, bringing BBH's share to 60.1 percent.

The aim of the purchase was to invest in the plant's production capacity, said Kristian Rammschmidt, president of BBH and a Pikra board member.

NTV Abroad

MOSCOW (MT) -- NTV television said Thursday it will block a contract with its foreign arm and launch a new company, NTV-World, to broadcast to its Russian-speaking audience abroad -- completing the split between NTV and its founder, Vladimir Gusinsky.

The foreign broadcaster, NTV International, is still controlled by Gusinsky, who lost control of NTV earlier this year when the television channel was taken over by the media arm of state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom.

Presently, NTV International offers its Russian-speaking audiences in North America, Europe and Israel a mix of programs from NTV and TV6, where many NTV journalists have moved as a result of the conflict.

NTV spokesman Lawrence McDonnell said Thursday that NTV International has not paid NTV for use of that content.

NTV-World will begin broadcasting in October and will also include local Russian-language reporting from areas with large Russian-speaking populations.