Russian News: March 7th, 2008!

RBC, 07.03.2008, Moscow 10:58:35.Itera seeks to increase the number of its investment projects it Turkmenistan. A delegation of the Russian natural gas producer’s top managers is due to arrive in Ashgabat on March 9 to hold talks with the country’s officials over Itera’s participation in new and existing oil and gas projects. For instance, the company intends to sign a production sharing agreement (PSA) for three blocks of the Caspian Sea Shelf and receive a license for the survey and development of a new block. If Itera gets the license, it is likely to engage Zarubezhneft and Rosneft as partners, the RBC Daily newspaper reports.

RBC, 07.03.2008, Moscow 10:51:39.Half an hour into today’s special dollar trading session for tomorrow deals, the weighted average exchange rate stood at 23.83 RUB/USD, having gained RUB 0.02 since the opening. The current developments on MICEX can be attributed to the euro’s slight decline against the dollar on international exchanges. The European currency is now trading at USD 1.54, down 0.025 percent from USD 1.5404 at the opening.

RBC, 07.03.2008, Moscow 09:56:33.Russia’s Central Election Commission is expected to officially disclose today the final presidential election results. According to a statement the commission’s head Vladimir Churov made earlier, the results were to be summed up towards the end of March 7.

RBC, 07.03.2008, Moscow 09:35:27.Russia’s Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov will chair a meeting of the presidential council for the development of physical culture and sports, sport excellence and the preparations and the holding of the Sochi Olympics in 2014 today. The meeting’s participants will discuss financial support for the program of constructing Olympic facilities in Sochi, as well as see whether the previous meeting’s instruction had been duly fulfilled, including with regard to the city’s transport infrastructure. The meeting will also address the creation of the unified information center Sochi-2014 for contacts with the mass media and a hotline to answer the questions of the public. Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak and Transportation Minister Igor Levitin are expected to deliver their reports today.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 19:55:14.Open-ended mutual funds specializing in investment in the metallurgy sector demonstrated the biggest earnings in Russia in the first two months of 2008, according to a rating of the most profitable mutual funds for the year to date published by the RBC.Rating agency today. According to the study, seven out of ten funds with the highest earnings rate were metallurgy sector oriented.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 19:49:49.Russia exported 19.015m tons of oil in January 2008, 0.69 percent less than during the same month a year earlier, the Federal Customs Service (FCS) reported. In value terms, oil exports increased 1.7 times to nearly $11.657bn, with 17.839m tonnes (a 1.16 percent rise year-on-year) worth $11.359bn (up 70 percent) supplied to countries outside the CIS. Meanwhile, Russia delivered 1.177m tonnes of oil (down 26 percent) worth $597.9m (up 15.65 percent) to the CIS.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 19:28:11.Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works’s (MMK) revenue under RAS grew 17.87 percent to RUB 190.287bn (approx. USD 7.91bn) in 2007 compared to a year earlier, the company said in a statement. MMK’s gross profit increased 4.42 percent to RUB 61.282bn (approx. USD 2.55bn), while sales profit rose 2.67 percent to RUB 51.447bn (approx. USD 2.14bn).

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 18:42:46.The Russian stock market finished with no defined trend today. The MICEX index was down 0.22 percent at 1,652.01 points and the RTS index up 0.42 percent at 2,050.9 points. On MICEX, Transneft soared 3.43 percent, Norilsk Nickel rose 0.71 percent, and LUKoil increased 0.81 percent. Meanwhile, Sberbank lost 1.56 percent, VTB fell 2.2 percent, and RAO UES slid 1.51 percent. Among the RTS’s gainers were Transneft (up 5.38 percent), LUKoil (up 1.12 percent), and Norilsk Nickel (up 1.81 percent). However, Sberbank declined 1.23 percent.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Kiev 17:58:26.The Ukrainian parliament has resumed work in the session hall, which had been blocked for about a month after the country’s government sent a letter to NATO, declaring Ukraine’s readiness to join the organization’s Membership Action Plan (MAP). After the opening of the session, the majority of Ukrainian deputies, except for the communists, voted in favor of joining MAP. The country will now seek to enter the organization if Ukrainians approve the move in a national referendum.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 16:10:24.Russia’s foreign trade surplus surged 73 percent to $19.9bn in January 2008, compared to $11.5bn in the same period a year earlier, the Federal Customs Service said. In the same period, Russia’s foreign trade increased 51.9 percent to $47.5bn, including $40.8bn with the CIS (up 54.9 percent) and $6.7bn with countries outside the CIS (up 36.2 percent). Russia’s imports climbed 39.5 percent to $13.7bn, including imports from countries outside the CIS worth $11.6bn (up 44.5 percent) and $2.1bn from the CIS (17.6 percent). Exports rose 57.7 percent to $33.7bn, including $ 29.2bn worth of exports to countries outside the CIS (up 59.4 percent) and $4.5bn to the CIS (up 47.3 percent).

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 13:25:12.The Bank of Russia’s assets stood at some RUB 12.604 trillion (approx. USD 524bn) as of February 1, 2008, having risen 3.14 percent from December 1, 2007 and 45.54 percent from a year earlier, the Central Bank stated in a balance sheet today. According to the document, the bank’s precious metals account increased 15.9 percent to roughly RUB 383bn (approx. USD 15.9bn) compared to December 1, 2007. Funds placed with non-residents and securities issued by non-residents rose 4.8 percent to nearly RUB 11.697 trillion (approx. USD 486.4bn), while credits and deposits amounted to RUB 46.610bn (approx. USD 1.94bn), securities equaled RUB 373.654bn (approx. USD 15.54bn), and other assets totaled RUB 104.56bn (approx. USD 4.35bn).The bank’s capital stood at RUB 462.028bn (approx. USD 19.21bn) as of February 1.

RBC, 06.03.2008, Moscow 12:37:31.During today’s cabinet meeting, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov strongly criticized natural monopolies for creating barriers for small businesses in Russia. He blamed state-owned monopolies for hiking water and electricity prices and accused officials of bribery, adding that no simplified procedures for small businesses had been introduced so far. Zubkov urged Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov to take specific and active steps to eliminate bureaucratic barriers for small businesses.

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