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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Manufacturing Growth

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The manufacturing economy showed modest growth in May for the 42nd consecutive month, although expansion slowed compared with April, Moscow Narodny Bank said in a survey published Monday.

The May Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 51.2, down on April's 52. A reading above 50 means expansion.

After accounting for strong seasonal effects of the closure of factories for holidays and planned maintenance, May's survey recorded further robust growth of manufacturing production as firms responded to the strengthening of new order books, the bank said in a statement.

Chickens Check In

MOSCOW (MT) -- The first shipments of U.S. poultry have reached Russia after a ban on "Bush legs" was lifted in April, Interfax reported. The Anapa and Indian Reefer refrigerator ships, carrying 10,500 tons of chicken meat, docked in St. Petersburg on Monday.

According to a port official, the ports are equipped with powerful refrigerators, and a quality-control program for the imported foodstuffs is being carried out.

The ban on U.S. chicken was lifted April 15 when the U.S. side fulfilled a number of Russian veterinary requirements for the quality of chicken meat intended for sale in Russia.

Three Down for PwC

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Moscow Arbitration Court on Monday threw out the third of five lawsuits by minority Gazprom shareholder Hermitage Fund against PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC said.

Hermitage filed the suits in April, alleging PwC's audits of Gazprom were "false and misleading."

The suit dismissed Monday centered on PwC's audit of Gazprom's relationship with Florida-based natural gas trader Itera.

"We have consistently stood behind our work on Gazprom and are not surprised the court has now rejected three separate claims by the plaintiff," said Richard Buski, senior partner in Russia.

Norilsk Profit Plunge

MOSCOW (MT) -- Norilsk Nickel's first-quarter net profits fell fourfold year on year, Interfax quoted the company's quarterly report as saying Monday.

Last year, the company reported profits of 14.78 billion rubles ($472 million) while this year, the company said its net profits, calculated according to Russian accounting standards, were 3.734 billion rubles.

The figure does not include the profits of Norilsk Nickel's subsidiaries, Interfax reported a company spokesman as saying.

Bonds for VTB

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government is planning to offer the Central Bank government bonds worth more than 42 billion rubles ($1.34 billion) with annual yield of 6 percent for a 99 percent share in Vneshtorgbank, Interfax reported a government source as saying Monday.

The bonds will have special status and will have the possibility of early redemption, the source said.

New Alrosa Factory

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Uncut diamond monopoly Alrosa has launched a new diamond-processing factory at the Nakynskoye deposit in the republic of Sakha, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

Alrosa plans to mine $80 million to $100 million worth of uncut diamonds at the field this year. Alrosa is currently building another processing factory at the deposit.

Joint Oil Exchange

PARIS (Prime-Tass) -- Russia and Germany plan to set up a joint oil exchange with contracts denominated in euros, creating a trading floor able to compete successfully with the London and New York oil exchanges, sources in the European Commission said, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

The new exchange is expected to be based in Frankfurt, Germany, with a branch in Russia.

Health Product Plant

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Nutritek has opened a $40 million health-product plant in the Moscow-region town of Istra.

The plant is capable of producing 1,500 tons of dry health products, 6,000 tons of liquid pasteurized health products and 11,000 liters of water for making baby food that complies with Russia's healthcare and specialized nutritional demands.

Dairy Double

HELSINKI, Finland (Reuters) -- Finland's largest dairy group, cooperatives-owned Valio, posted Monday a doubling of January to April profit driven in part by stronger sales overseas, particularly in Russia.

Sales abroad grew faster than at home -- by 24 percent and 8 percent, respectively -- while total turnover rose 12.4 percent to 516 million euros ($483 million).

"Part of the reason for the strong growth in foreign sales was the good development of Russian sales," Valio said in a statement.

Customs Exceed Target

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russian customs contributed 214.71 billion rubles ($6.9 billion) to the federal budget in January to May, 1.26 percent above target, the State Customs Committee reported Monday.

Customs contributed 42.540 billion rubles to the federal budget in May, 4.99 percent above target, the committee said.

Ruble Eases

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The ruble eased against the dollar Monday, dragged down by the Central Bank's continued dollar purchases and lower local money market rates.

In the unified trading session of eight exchanges, which usually serves as the basis for the Central Bank's next-day ruble/dollar rate, the ruble fell to a weighted average for today settlement of 31.3136 from 31.3058 Friday.