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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

February PMI Rises to 52.6

Manufacturing activity in March accelerated at the fastest pace in seven months as factories increased output to meet swelling demand, an index of purchasing managers showed.

Moscow Narodny Bank's Purchasing Managers Index rose to 52.6 from 51.6 in February, the biggest gain since August, the bank said in a statement Friday. A figure above 50 indicates growth, below that a contraction.

The survey of 300 purchasing managers "signals further improvements in Russia's industrial dynamics, with the headline index reaching a seven-month high," London-based MNB economist Paul Timmons said in the statement. (Bloomberg)

Growth Forecast Raised

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry has raised its forecast for 2005 GDP growth to 6.5 percent from 5.8 percent, a ministry spokesman said Friday.

The new forecast is higher than a consensus view in a new poll of analysts on Friday, which showed GDP growth this year slowing to a median 6 percent from 7.1 percent last year and 7.3 percent in 2003. (Reuters)

RZD '04 Oil Shipments Up

Russian Railways, or RZD, the country's rail monopoly, boosted oil shipments to ports by 33 percent last year as oil pipeline capacity lagged production growth.

The railway shipped 54.2 million tons (1.1 million barrels per day) of oil to ports in 2004, RZD said Friday in a statement. Shipments to the northwest increased more than to any other area.

Railed oil shipments in the northwest to ports such as Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, St. Petersburg and Vysotsk rose by 44.2 percent in 2004 to 24.7 million tons. (Bloomberg)

Tatneft Daily Output Up

Tatneft, Russia's sixth-largest oil producer, increased daily output of crude oil 2 percent in the first three months of the year as it drilled new wells. Output rose to 6.304 million tons in the first quarter, Tatneft said in a statement.

That means average daily production was 513,300 barrels per day, compared with 499,406 bpd in the year-earlier period. March production totaled 2.17 million tons. (Bloomberg)

Ukraine Wants Iraqi Oil

KIEV -- A top Ukrainian official said the nation wants to import Iraqi oil in an effort to reduce its dependency on other key suppliers, including Russia and Turkmenistan.

Petro Poroshenko, the head of the Security and Defense Council, said late Thursday that experts will consider technicalities related to shipping Iraqi crude oil from Kirkuk and Basra to Ukraine's oil terminal in the Black Sea port of Odessa.

Poroshenko said that the project was not aimed against Russia "or any other [Ukrainian] partner." (AP)

Berezovsky Suing Fridman

Boris Berezovsky, who controls Kommersant Publishing House, is suing Alfa Bank chairman Mikhail Fridman for saying that Berezovsky threatened him, Kommersant reported, citing Berezovsky.

Fridman accused Berezovsky of making threats after Fridman had offered to lend money to Kommersant's managers, a loan that could have prevented Berezovsky from taking control of Kommersant in 1999, Vedomosti reported. Fridman's comments were aired in an NTV talk show on Oct. 28, Vedomosti reported. (Bloomberg)

Mazeikiu Deliveries Halted

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Mazeikiu Nafta, Yukos' Lithuanian unit, said pipeline deliveries of Russian crude to its refinery stopped because of "technical obstacles." The unit has enough reserves to continue work for about three days.

"Crude is not flowing right now because of some technical obstacles that we are working to overcome," spokesman Giedrius Karsokas said by telephone Saturday from the refinery. "The plant is working and can continue until Monday evening" without new supplies, he said.

He declined to specify the nature of the problem. (Bloomberg)

Oil Loading Halted

Russia's largest oil port on the Black Sea, Novorossiisk, suspended mooring operations at its oil terminal Thursday after high winds caused rough seas.

Wind speeds of 33 meters per second were making it too dangerous for ships to load oil, said Mikhail Volfin, the port's press officer, in a telephone interview Friday from Novorossiisk.

Rosneft was scheduled Friday to start loading an 80,000-ton cargo, according to the official loading schedule for the port issued by the Industry and Energy Ministry.

Kazakh oil companies were scheduled to start loading an 80,000-ton cargo at the port on Saturday and another 62,000-ton cargo on Sunday. (Bloomberg)

TNK-BP Refinery Stoppage

TNK-BP will stop production at its Ukrainian refinery for annual maintenance from April 9 to May 13, the company said in a statement on its web site.

The refinery, Linos, will replace equipment at its catalyst cracking and reforming units to improve the quality of its oil products, TNK-BP said.

Linos moved from twice-yearly repairs to yearly in 2004. The refinery is stockpiling 320,000 tons of gasoline and diesel fuel ahead of the shutdown. (Bloomberg)

IEA's Plans for Oil Crisis

LONDON -- Oil-importing countries should be "better prepared" to cut fuel demand and use emergency crude stockpiles in case of supply disruptions, IEA spokesman Pierre Nesevre said.

The IEA is preparing a report for its ministerial meeting, planned for the end of April, with a set of measures that may help lower demand for oil, Nesevre said. The Financial Times reported that the study addresses a scenario of a possible drop in supply of 1 million to 2 million barrels per day . (Bloomberg)

Yukos Shareholder Suit?

An investment group said Thursday that it was coordinating with a group of minority shareholders to take legal action if their losses from the Kremlin's legal assault on Yukos were not recuperated.

Francis Scola, manager of the Shipston Group investment fund, said he wanted minority shareholders to be given a proportional share in Yuganskneftegaz, the former production facility that was sold off in a disputed auction in December against Yukos' back tax bills. (AP)

Gazprom in Hungary?

BUDAPEST -- Gazprom may seek to buy a minority stake worth $1.1 billion in MOL, the largest oil company in the 10 new European Union members, as it looks to expand its business.

The company will consider bidding for Hungary's 11.8 percent stake in MOL, which the Hungarian government said it wanted to sell in the second half of the year, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Friday.

Miller met with Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany to discuss the sale on Friday. (Bloomberg)

Turkmen Gas Dispute

LONDON -- President Vladimir Putin has told Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov about a planned Gazprom delegation visit to Turkmenistan to discuss a price dispute that has kept Gazprom from buying Turkmen natural gas.

Putin phoned Niyazov on Thursday to say that Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller would arrive at Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital, on April 13, said Turkmenistan's state-owned news service in a web site statement.

Gazprom plans to buy 7 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas this year, said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov on Friday. (Bloomberg)

Baturina Sells Cement Firm

Yelena Baturina, the wife of Mayor Yury Luzhkov and Russia's only woman on Forbes magazine's list of billionaires, sold her cement business to Euro Cement for $800 million, Vedomosti reported.

Baturina's holding company, Inteko, which specializes in plastic products such as stadium seats, sold controlling stakes in five factories, including one in Ukraine, and minority stakes in two others, the newspaper said, citing both companies.

Forbes in May estimated Baturina's fortune at $1.1 billion, making her the 35th-richest person in Russia. (Bloomberg)

GM-AvtoVAZ Output Up

GM-AvtoVAZ, the joint venture between the largest U.S. and Russian automakers, increased output by nearly half in the first quarter as rising incomes fueled demand for consumer goods.

The maker of Chevy-Niva sports utility vehicles rolled out 13,480 units in the first three months of 2005, 43 percent more than in the same period last year, the company said on its web site.

It plans to produce 75,000 of the SUVs this year, which would be 36 percent more than last year and triple its output in 2003. (Bloomberg)