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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Trade Surplus Down 56%

Russia's first-quarter trade surplus was $23.4 billion, down 56 percent from the year-earlier period, the Federal Customs Service said Wednesday.

Exports fell 47.6 percent in the period to $56.9 billion, while imports fell by 39 percent to $33.5 billion, the service said.

The share of energy, including crude oil and gas, in exports to countries outside the Commonwealth of Independent States fell by 51.7 percent in the first three months, the statement said. Machinery and other manufactured equipment comprised 45.6 percent of imports. (Bloomberg)

Fewer Banks With Losses

The number of loss-making Russian banks fell from 197 in the first two months of the year to 110 in the first quarter of 2009, the Central Bank reported Wednesday.

The total pretax losses at the 110 banks declined 14.3 percent in March to 29.1 billion rubles ($884 million). (MT)

Fishing Tops Other Sectors

Fishing has posted the largest growth in sales volume of all Russian industries in the first two months of 2009, Timur Mitupov, head of the Fish Union's analytical group, said Wednesday.

Fish sales were up 19 percent as of March 1, compared with 2008, Mitupov said. In second and third place were health and social services and agriculture, which grew by 16 and 15 percent, respectively, the Fish Union reported.

As of May 1, Russian fishermen caught 1.3 million tons of seafood, 94,000 tons more than last year, the Federal Fisheries Agency said. (MT)

Pork Ban Lifted in 6 States

Russia has lifted from 6 U.S. states a ban on raw pork imports imposed because of the flu virus but added two new states to the banned list, the country's animal and plant health watchdog said Wednesday.

A report of the flu spread showed that it excluded from Zone 2, to which a ban on imports of raw pork applies, the states of Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey and Ohio. It added Massachusetts to the list. (Reuters)

Exxon Denies Sakhalin Deal

ExxonMobil said Wednesday that it had not yet agreed to sell gas from its Sakhalin-1 project to Gazprom, denying earlier reports about the deal.

Japanese daily Nikkei reported earlier this week that Sakhalin-1 would sell 20 percent of its gas to Gazprom, citing unnamed sources. The price of sales had yet to be agreed, it said.

"ExxonMobil has confirmed that the Sakhalin-1 consortium is still in discussions with Gazprom on potential sales of gas from the Sakhalin-1 project, but no sales and purchase agreement has been signed yet," ExxonMobil spokeswoman Dilyara Sydykova said. (Reuters)

Polymetal Cuts Loss

Polymetal said Wednesday that it cut its net loss last year to $15.7 million from 2007's $22.8 million.

"Financial results for 2008 demonstrate excellent fundamentals of our business in the face of the global financial crisis," Vitaly Nesis, CEO of Polymetal, said in a statement.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization rose by 161 percent to $192.6 million, the statement said. Revenues rose by 63 percent to $502.7 million. (Reuters)