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Interfax.com  |  Interfax news  |  Daily Headline News for January 13, 2012


News headlines


January 13, 2012 15:30

Daily Headline News for January 13, 2012

Digest of headline news as of 3:30 p.m. Moscow time on January 13:

BUSINESS & FINANCE

*** RUSSIAN MONETARY BASE UP 339.7 BLN RUBLES TO 7149.7 BLN RUBLES

The narrow monetary base in Russia stood at 7149.7 bln rubles on January 1 and January 10 up from 6810.0 bln rubles on December 26 the Central Bank reported on Friday.

The narrow monetary base includes cash in circulation (including cash held at credit institutions), and balances on banks' mandatory local-currency-deposit reserve accounts with the Central Bank.

*** RUSSIA'S INTERNATIONAL RESERVES GROW 4% TO $498.65 BLN IN 2011

Russia's international reserves grew by $19.27 billion, or 4% in 2011, to $498.649 billion from $479.379 billion, the Central Bank reported on its website.

The reserves shrank by $12.261 billion, or 2.3% in December, from $510.91 billion.

Monetary gold as a share of the international reserves shrank to 8.9% from 9.4% in December, but rose from 7.5% at the beginning of 2011.

Russia's international reserves increased by $39.929 billion, or 9.1% in 2010, to $479.379 billion from $439.45 billion, and grew by $11.954 billion in 2009 after shrinking by $51.682 billion in 2008.

*** RUSSIA'S FOREIGN TRADE SURPLUS UP 24.4% TO $188.9 BLN IN JAN-NOV 2011 - FCS

Russia's foreign trade surplus grew 24.4% year-on-year to $188.9 billion rubles in January-November 2011, the Federal Customs Service (FCS) said in a statement.

Russia's foreign trade turnover came to $742.7 billion in the 11-month period, 32.6% higher than in the same period of 2010. Trade turnover with non-Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries reached $631.5 billion (+32.3%), and turnover with CIS countries totaled $111.2 billion (+34.4%).

The trade balance with non-CIS countries totaled $159.1 billion (up $32 billion), and with CIS countries - $29.8 billion (up $5 billion).

*** RUSSIAN IMPORTS FROM NON-CIS UP 32.3% TO $260.9 BLN IN 2011 - FCS

Russia imported $260.917 billion worth of goods from non-CIS countries in 2011, 32.3% more than in 2010, the Federal Customs Service (FCS) said in preliminary data published on its website.

In December alone, imports totaled $24.67 billion, up 2.2% from November.

*** NO NEW GAS WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA, UKRAINE - AZAROV

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has ruled out a possibility of a gas war with Russia.

"Why would we fight with Russian brothers? Never ever. We are not even going to talk about it and we won't," he told journalists.

"Certainly both we and they have economic interests. They have got a very good paper [gas contracts] and are holding on to it with both hands. And we are telling them that there is also life beside this paper. We shall make a deal," he said.

*** RUSSIAN GAS PRICE AT $416 MAKES UKRAINE TURN TO COAL - AZAROV

Coal heating is cheaper for Ukraine than Russian natural gas at a price of $416 per 1,000 cubic meters, Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said.

"Speaking of using coal instead of gas, when gas costs $416 as it does now, coal use is appropriate and economically justified. But if the gas price goes down and will be, for instance, $220, then using coal as opposed to gas will be inefficient," the prime minister told journalists after the ceremony of opening the Kyiv-Irpen road.

Ukraine has set the task of seriously cutting the consumption of expensive Russian natural gas in 2012, he said. Already a meeting has been held to decide who will be in charge of what, "and the work got under way in full swing," Azarov said.

*** GAZPROM COULD STRENGTHEN ITS POSITION IN VNG MANAGEMENT - PAPER

The German antimonopoly regulator is likely to grant Russian gas major Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) permission to increase its stake in the East German gas importer Verbundnetz Gas AG (VNG), the German newspaper Handelsblatt reported with reference to a preliminary decision by the authorities.

The regulator believes that an increase in Gazprom's stake will not excessively impact the German gas market, the newspaper said.

Two years ago, Gazprom upped its stake in VNG by purchasing the French company GDF Suez's 5.26% stake in the German importer. Gazprom currently owns 10.52% of VNG.

*** LUKOIL EXTRACTS 5.5% LESS OIL IN 2011

Russian oil major Lukoil (RTS: LKOH) group expects to have produced 90.7 million tonnes of oil last year, which would be 5.5% less than in 2010.

Lukoil issued a statement saying that the company board of directors had summed up preliminary figures for 2011 at a meeting on Friday.

The company's investment spending last year is expected to have amounted to $9.8 billion, or 22% more than in 2010.

*** MECHEL OPENS TRADE REPRESENTATIONS IN POLAND, EGYPT, SINGAPORE

Mechel (RTS: MTLR) has opened trade representations in Poland, Egypt and Singapore, according to the list of OJSC Mechel affiliates as of January 12.

The updated list includes the companies Mechel Service Poland Spolka (Warsaw), Nile Steel Trading and Pyramid (Cairo) and Mechel Carbon (Singapore).

Metal trading divisions of Mechel Service Global have been registered in Poland and Egypt, while the Singaporean company represents production in the coal segment, the company told Interfax. Mechel did not previously have its own trade subsidiaries in these countries.

*** ALROSA MIGHT PLACE $400 MLN IN ECP IN Q1 TO PAY VTB FOR GAS ASSETS

Alrosa (RTS: ALRS) might place $400 million worth of European commercial paper (ECP) in the first quarter of 2012 to finance the buyout of gas assets from VTB Capital, a source at the Russian diamond miner told Interfax.

The ECP will be placed after the company decides on the timing of the buyout of the gas assets - CJSC Geotransgaz and LLC Urengoi Gas Company - which it sold to the bank for $620 million in a repo deal in 2009 to reduce its debt burden, the source said.

Alrosa secured approval for the deal from the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) at the end of December, he said.

*** CAPITAL INFLOW INTO FUNDS INVESTING IN RUSSIA, CIS STOCK UP TO $43 MLN - EXPERTS

Capital inflow into funds investing in stocks in Russia and the CIS came to $43 million on January 5-11, up from $11 million the week before, Emerging Portfolio Fund Research (EPFR) says.

Thus, from the beginning of 2012 to January 11, capital inflow into Russian funds totaled $32 million.

"The past week has shown that investors have become more benevolent towards developing markets. As a result, capital inflow into funds investing in Russia was recorded for the first time in the last eight weeks," a Uralsib Capital report says.

*** RUSSIAN AIRLINES FLY 12.5% MORE PASSENGERS IN 2011

Russian airlines increased passenger transport in 2011 by 12.5% to 64.057 million persons in comparison with the previous year, Russia's federal air transport agency (Rosaviatsia) said on Friday.

Passenger turnover in the 12 months increased by 13.2% to 166.591 billion passenger kilometers.

Transport in December 2011 increased by 14.3% year-on-year to 4.588 million passengers while turnover went up by 14.4% to 12.51 billion passenger kilometers

Cargo and postal transport increased by 5.4% to 84,794 tonnes.

*** KAZAKHSTAN UPS GAS PRODUCTION 5.7% IN 2011

Kazakhstan produced 39.535 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in 2011, up 5.7% over 2010, the Kazakh government told Interfax.

Natural gas production came to 19.357 bcm, skyrocketing 110% over 2010.

Kazakh National Company KazMunayGas produced 1.166 bcm of blue fuel in 2011, a 94.5% jump over 2010.

Enterprises with KazMunayGas participation produced 15.633 bcm of gas (+99.4%) in 2011, including the joint venture Tengizshevroil - 13.529 bcm (+99.3%).

*** SOCAR PRODUCES OVER 220,000 TONNES OF OIL, 9.5 MLN CU M OF GAS AT BALAKHANY-SABUNCHI FIELDS IN 2011

SOCAR's (State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic) oil and gas production division, Balakhanyneft, produced 220,429 tonnes of oil and 9.506 million cubic meters of gas from the Balakhany-Sabunchi fields in 2011, SOCAR told Interfax.

These exceeded planned volumes by 2.6% and 11.1%, respectively.

Overall, Balakhanyneft had 1,445 wells in 2011 - 1,078 operating wells and 367 idle wells. Throughout the year, 144 wells were repaired, which resulted in an additional 10,989 tonnes of oil production.

POLITICS & SOCIETY

*** MEDVEDEV MEETS WITH RUSSIAN, FOREIGN PROSECUTORS

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is meeting with senior Russian prosecution officials and representatives of the international prosecutorial community in Gorki near Moscow.

Over 30 foreign delegations representing prosecutors in a number of European and Asian countries, as well as envoys from five international organizations are in Moscow to celebrate the 290th anniversary of the Russian prosecution service.

*** U.S. CLAIMS TO SCHNEERSON LIBRARY PROVOCATIVE - AVDEYEV

Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev has said that the Schneerson library, to which a U.S. religious organization has claimed title, is Russia's unalienable property.

"The library forms part of the Russian library reserve and is inalienable. The history of its claiming by U.S. plaintiffs appears to us provocative," Avdeyev told a press conference at the Interfax head office on Friday.

The request by U.S. plaintiffs "aims to spoil the bilateral relations between our countries and to undermine the political reset," the culture minister said.

*** CULTURE MINISTER AVDEYEV SAYS WILL SWITCH TO ANOTHER JOB AFTER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Russian Culture Minister Alexander Avdeyev does not plan to work on the government to be formed after the presidential elections.

"I am beyond the allowable age limit and I plan to switch to another job," Avdeyev said at a news conference at Interfax on Friday.

*** WEST-PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO RUSSIAN RESOLUTION ON SYRIA AIMED AT TOPPLING ASSAD'S REGIME - DIPLOMAT

The amendments put forward by a number of Western countries to the Russian-proposed draft of a UN Security Council resolution on Syria pursue a regime change in Damascus and take the essence out of the resolution's content, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov has told Interfax.

"Unfortunately, the Western approach radically differs from ours, and judging from the content of the amendments that have been submitted, they are obviously aimed at toppling Assad's regime in Damascus," the diplomat said.

*** TRADE BETWEEN RUSSIA, CHINA REACHES $80 BLN - AMBASSADOR

Trade between Russia and China in 2011 stands at $80 billion, the Chinese ambassador to Russia Li Huei said.

"Trade between the two countries in 2011 hit historical high, having reached $80 billion," he said at a meeting with the Russian media.

*** RUSSIAN NERPA SUB TO BE SUPPLIED TO INDIAN NAVY ON JAN 19 - SOURCE

The Russian nuclear submarine, Nerpa, will be leased to the Indian Navy on January 19, an informed source told Interfax-AVN on Friday.

"All the required documents regarding the submarine's handover have been signed by the parties, the delivery and acceptance commission has completed its work. Officially, the Nerpa is due to be handed over to India on January 19," the source said.

*** PHOBOS-GRUNT COULD FALL IN SOUTH ATLANTIC ON JAN 15-16 - AGENCY

The debris of the Russian interplanetary station Phobos-Grunt could fall into the Atlantic Ocean, not far from the coast of Argentina, the Russian Space Agency said.

"The Phobos-Grunt debris is predicted to fall to Earth on January 15 or 16, with the central point at 8:22 p.m. Moscow time on January 15," the agency said on its website on Friday.

The spacecraft debris could fall at a place at 60 degrees western longitude and 45 degrees southern latitude, i.e. in to the Atlantic Ocean, according to the agency's website.

*** ISS WILL MANEUVER TO DODGE SATELLITE DEBRIS - MISSION CONTROL

Russia's Mission Control Center, based in the town of Korolyov in the Moscow region, has tentatively approved the International Space Station's (ISS) evasive action on Friday evening needed to prevent a possible collision with a piece of orbiting debris from the U.S. Iridium-33 telecommunication satellite.

"The center's Ballistic Service has given its tentative approval for the maneuver, which is expected to take place at 8:10 p.m. Moscow time on Friday," a Mission Control Center spokesman told Interfax-AVN.

*** AUDIT CHAMBER TO CHECK POSSIBLE OFFSHORE OPERATIONS AT GAZPROM, OTHER STATE COMPANIES

The Russian Audit Chamber is planning to check all state corporations and large state companies on the subject of their operations in offshore zones.

"This spring we are beginning to inspect Gazprom (RTS: GAZP), as well as other biggest state companies and state corporations. The main theme of the inspection will be their offshore operations," Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin told Interfax on Friday.

"We are planning to coordinate this work with the Russian Cabinet of Ministers," he said.

*** PROKHOROV ANNOUNCES COLLECTION OF TWO MILLION SIGNATURES TO REGISTER AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Russian businessman Mikhail Prokhorov has already collected more than two million signatures in support of his registration as a candidate in the country's March 4 presidential election.

"My supporters have collected over two million signatures. We will submit them to the Central Election Commission for verification in the near future," Prokhorov told Interfax on Friday.

*** KUDRIN WANTS TO UNITE DEMOCRATS, LIBERALS IN ONE PARTY

Former Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin is not abandoning the idea of creating a new liberal party.

"I am in consultations about the unification of the democratic and liberal forces and the creation of a new party," Kudrin said on Twitter.

Earlier the opposition proposed to Kudrin to join the non-registered People's Freedom Party (PARNAS) rather than set up a new one.

*** PROMINENT TAJIK OPPOSITION ACTIVIST INJURED IN MOSCOW

A prominent Tajik opposition activist, journalist Dododzhon Atovuloyev, was severely injured in central Moscow on Thursday evening, the attack could have been commissioned, a law enforcement source told Interfax.

Atovuloyev, in extremely critical condition with a stab wound in the heart area, was taken by a team of paramedics to the Sklifosovsky hospital, he said.

It was found that someone had arranged to meet the opposition activist at the Viaggio restaurant beside the house where lived in Komsomolsky Prospect, the source said.

*** NO NEW GAS WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA, UKRAINE - AZAROV

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has ruled out a possibility of a gas war with Russia.

"Why would we fight with Russian brothers? Never ever. We are not even going to talk about it and we won't," he told journalists.

"Certainly both we and they have economic interests. They have got a very good paper [gas contracts] and are holding on to it with both hands. And we are telling them that there is also life beside this paper. We shall make a deal," he said.

ak ar

/Interfax/
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