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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Ruble Rising

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The ruble rose to a 10-month high against the dollar Tuesday as the Central Bank stopped mopping up extra oil dollars to brake the gains of the local currency.

The ruble rose 6.26 kopeks in official early trade to a weighted average for settlement today of 31.3175 to the dollar from 31.3801 on Monday, the Central Bank's preferred rate since the middle of March.

The bank, which holds a tight grip on the market, has been keeping the ruble flat against the dollar to calm the market unnerved by the U.S.-led military assault on Iraq.

Tele2's GSM Launch

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Sweden's Tele2 said Tuesday it launched its first GSM network in Russia, where it holds 12 mobile licenses but is not widely considered a major contender on the country's fast-growing cellular market.

The network was launched in the Siberian provincial capital of Irkutsk, where top competitors are notably absent. The Swedish operator said it would spend $50 million to $80 million on GSM investments in 2003. Four more networks should open by the end of the year, Tele2 said.

$910M Spending Cut

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The government plans to cut budget spending by 28.5 billion rubles ($910 million) next year to pay for tax cuts and to stimulate economic growth, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said Tuesday.

The savings would amount to 0.2 percent of gross domestic product, much less than the initially planned cuts of 1 percent per year.

"Cutting budget spending even by 1 percent of GDP turned out to be not that easy," Kudrin told reporters.

However, he said the 2004 cuts might turn out to be slightly higher than 0.2 percent, since the figure did not include a cut in funding for some federal programs or programs which would probably be canceled.

$3Bln Nuclear Exports

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The Nuclear Power Ministry's export revenues are expected to total as much as $3 billion this year, minister Alexander Rumyantsev was quoted as telling President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

In 2002, export revenues were $2.6 billion, he said.

The money is to be spent enhancing security at the country's nuclear power plants and developing new technologies and environmental protection, he added.

Mironov on WTO

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Prime-Tass) -- The establishment of a single economic area that includes Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will help these countries join the World Trade Organization, Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov was quoted as saying during a meeting with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Mironov said Nazarbayev had suggested creating an interstate committee on the economy and tariffs, as a step toward the single economic area.

UES Rejig Under Way

ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) -- A senior Unified Energy Systems official said Tuesday that reform was grinding forward after the president signed a new legal framework for restructuring.

Deputy chief executive Vyacheslav Sinyugin told reporters that the government was expected to restart work on a plan to consolidate UES-operated power plants into 10 competing wholesale generating companies within a month.

UES drafted a plan to form the companies and sent it to the government, where it stalled amid debate over the reform.

"In our understanding, discussion on the plan should go ahead within government institutions in the next month, and this plan can go to the senior members of the government for confirmation," Sinyugin said.

For the Record

The State Customs Committee contributed 57.3 billion rubles to the federal budget in March, 13 percent above target, the committee's press service said Tuesday. (Prime-Tass)

LUKoil has delayed the $1.4 billion sale of its stake in the Azeri-Chiraq-Guneshli oil field in the Caspian amid disagreements on how much tax it owes Azerbaijan's government on the deal, Agence France Presse reported Tuesday. (MT)