Digest of headline news from September 12 to 11:30 a.m. Moscow time on September 13:
BUSINESS & FINANCE
*** DOLLAR, EURO FALL AGAINST RUBLE
The dollar and euro are both falling against the ruble in early trading on the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange (MICEX) Thursday as the world markets remain upbeat in expectation of further stimulus measures from the world's central banks.
The dollar opened trade at 31.3847 rubles/$1, or 12.53 kopecks below yesterday's closing and 9.33 below the official exchange rate.
The euro began the day at 40.5708 rubles/EUR1, which was 3.08 kopecks below yesterday's closing and 6.18 above the official exchange rate.
The bi-currency basket ($0.55 and EUR0.45) started the day at 35.52 rubles, or 8 kopecks below yesterday's closing value.
*** RTS STOCK INDEX UP, MICEX DOWN AS RUBLE STRENGTHENS
Thursday saw a mixed start for Russian shares, reflecting the external markets.
The MICEX stock index fell 0.3% in the first minute of trading to 1474.84, but the dollar-denominated RTS rose 0.2% to 1485.76 as the ruble weakened against the dollar.
Benchmark stocks moved by up to 0.8%.
*** RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL RESERVES UP $2.6 BLN IN WEEK
Russia's international reserves up $2.6 billion to $517.2 billion in the week to September 7, the Central Bank said on Thursday.
The reserves stood at $514.6 billion on August 31.
*** INFLATION IN RUSSIA SLOWS TO 0.1% SEPT 4 TO 10 - ROSSTAT
The rate of inflation in Russia slowed to 0.1% the week of September 4 to 10, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rosstat) reported on Wednesday.
During the preceding week August 28 to September 3, inflation was 0.2% due to the indexation of tariffs for residential and communal services as of September 1.
*** EUROZONE WILL STAGNATE BUT AVOID FULL-SCALE RECESSION - BELOUSOV
The eurozone will be in stagnation but will avoid a full-scale recession, Russian Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov believes.
"The eurozone as a whole will be in stagnation and will need a long period for recovery, but we believe that Europe will be able to avoid a full-scale recession," he said during a presentation at the State Duma's 'government hour' on Wednesday.
As a result, global economic growth will slow to 3%-3.5% per year in 2012-2013, but it will reach 4% by 2015. There is not a very high likelihood of a full-blown crisis, he said.
*** ECON DEVELOPMENT MINISTRY EXPECTS RUSSIAN GDP GROWTH TO SLOW TO BELOW 3% IN H2
Russian GDP growth will slow to less than 3% in the second half of this year, compared to 4.5% in the first half, Russian Economic Development Minister Andrei Belousov said during 'government hour' on Wednesday at the State Duma.
"In the second half of the year, GDP growth will come to a little less than 3%, after 4.5% in the first half of the year. For 2012 as a whole, the Economic Development Ministry expects 3.5% GDP growth," he said.
From the middle of last year all the way until the end of the first quarter of 2012, "quite a strong wave of economic recovery was observed - GDP growth in annual terms was roughly 5%," Belousov said.
*** TNK-BP INTENDS TO EXPAND GLOBAL PRESENCE AFTER 2015 - TOP MANAGER
TNK-BP (RTS: TNBP) intends to expand its international presence after 2015, the company's Executive Vice President for Strategy and Development Mikhail Slobodin said at a meeting for suppliers and contractors.
"Our international diversification is aimed at developing the resource base. We anticipate that TNK-BP will accent its attention on existing international projects in 2013-2015. Starting in 2015 we intend to expand the geography of our international presence and become stronger in countries in which the company currently works. After 2018 there are plans to further diversify our global presence," he said.
*** VIETNAM OFFERING OPTIONS FOR NEW GAS PRODUCTION PROJECTS TO TNK-BP - KHAN
Vietnam is offering TNK-BP (RTS: TNBP) options for new gas production projects, Executive Director of TNK-BP German Khan told journalists.
"We have received signals to conduct negotiations from our Vietnamese colleagues on gas production projects in that country," he said.
*** TNK-BP'S BASE SCENARIO FOR NEAR FUTURE BASED AT $85-$90 PER BARREL - TOP-MANAGER
TNK-BP's (RTS: TNBP) base scenario for the near future is based on an oil price of $85-$90 per barrel (closer to $90), the company's executive vice-president for development strategy, Mikhail Slobodin, said at a gathering of TNK-BP's suppliers and sub-contractors.
"The crisis option of $60 per barrel means that we wrap up investment and put funds only into brawn fields. The base scenario of $85/closer to $90 is the most realistic and foresees the implementation of two new projects, Rospan and Yamalneft. The high scenario ($100 or higher per barrel) will allow for the implementation of additional projects," he said.
*** NLMK PRICES 5 BLN RUBLES IN 7TH-SERIES BONDS AT 8.5%, DEMAND 8 BLN RUBLES
Russian steel company Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK) (RTS: NLMK) set the rate for the first coupon of its seventh bond series at 8.5% per annum on Tuesday, the company said in a press release.
The first coupon rate is equal to the rate for the second through fifth coupons. The payment for each coupon will total 42.38 rubles per bond, with face value at 1,000 rubles.
The rate was established at book building, which took place on September 10-11. Rosbank (RTS: ROSB), Bank Zenit (RTS: ZENT) and Gazprombank (RTS: GZPR) collected the applications.
*** SBERBANK WILL NOT SIGNIFICANTLY CHANGE PRODUCT LINE FOR CORPORATE CLIENTS AFTER TROIKA DIALOG PURCHASE
Sberbank of Russia (RTS: SBER), which has significantly expanded its production line for corporate borrowers by integrating with Troika Dialog (RTS: TROY), is not planning on making any major changes to that line in the future, Senior Banker for Sberbank's Major Corporate Clients Department, Dmitry Sredin, said in an interview with Interfax.
"The product line will not significantly change. Thanks to its purchase of Troika Dialog, Sberbank has substantially widened its line in the investment banking services sphere. We were able to take a leading position in transactions to attract shareholder and debt capital and in M&A deals," he said.
*** EDB MAY PLACE BENCHMARK 10-YR EUROBOND ISSUE - SOURCE
Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) may be going to place a benchmark issue of ten-year dollar-denominated Eurobonds, but neither placement volume or yield guidance are known at this time, a source close to the deal told Interfax.
The bank is winding up a September 10-12 Eurobond roadshow today. Meetings were held in London on Monday, and meetings were scheduled in Boston and New York September 11 and 12.
The placement organizers are BNP Paribas, Citi, HSBC, and VTB Capital.
*** NBB LOOKING TO UP GOLD, FOREX RESERVES TO IMF STANDARDS TO $8.7 BLN BY 2014
The National Bank of Belarus (NBB) plans to have increased its gold and forex reserves per International Monetary Fund (IMF) standards to $8.7 billion by the end of next year, NBB management board chairperson Nadezhda Yermakova said during a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
"Based on the need to increase the gold and forex reserves by the end of the five-year period to a volume of three-month imports, factoring in their growth, the gold and forex reserves are forecast at $8.7 billion for 2013," a presidential press statement citing Yermakova said.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
*** PUTIN SAYS AGAINST "IDEOLOGICAL CENSORSHIP"
President Vladimir Putin has said he has "always been against any form of ideological censorship" of the media but has insisted that "reasonable rules" are needed to shield children from immoral influences that might come through the media.
"In the modern world, school is not the only source of learning for children. The moral climate in society largely depends on what they see, hear and read. I believe that reasonable rules on advertising, on the media, on Internet content, on networks for the distribution of printed and video products must become an object of serious, heightened attention from the public and lawmakers," Putin told a conference in Krasnodar.
"I have always been against any form of ideological censorship," he said. "But what I'm talking about are clear rules and responsibility and the priorities and principles of cultural policy."
*** MEDVEDEV SICKENED BY PUSSY RIOT AND WHAT THEY DID
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has admitted that he is sickened by what Pussy Riot did and the hysteria surrounding their escapades.
At a meeting with United Russia activists in Penza he spoke of "the emotional side of the matter" and apologized for using strong language.
"I am sick of what they did and of their appearance and the hysteria that accompanies everything that happened," Medvedev said.
"I am sickened to speak of that. This is my personal attitude," he concluded.
*** LAVROV: MURDER OF U.S. AMBASSADOR IN LIBYA CONFIRMS NEED FOR JOINT ANTI-TERROR EFFORTS
Moscow and Washington should pool efforts to resist the terrorist threat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.
The Foreign Ministry website reported on Wednesday that he sent a message to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton following the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya.
"We strongly condemn the crime which once again confirms the need for the joint efforts of our countries, the entire world community in combating the evil of terrorism in all its manifestations," the message says.
*** LAVROV STRESSES NEED TO CREATE WMD-FREE ZONE IN MID-EAST
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov thinks that it is necessary to convene a conference on creating a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East by the year's end.
"The creation of a zone free of WMD in the Middle East in line with UN Security Council's resolutions is getting more topical," Lavrov said at a ministerial meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Astana on Wednesday.
"We think that it is necessary to fulfill the decision of the NPT signatories and convene a conference by the year's end in order to start a detail work on this problem," he said.
*** CONTACT GROUP CAN PROMOTE SETTLEMENT IN SYRIA - RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT
Moscow regards as useful the meeting of the Contact Group for Syria comprising Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran.
"Moscow followed with interest the first meeting of the quartet of Islamic states for Syria at the highest level which declared as its objective helping to stop the bloodshed and sufferings of the Syrian people through political efforts. Any steps in this direction, especially taken by such influential countries of the region, deserve most serious attention and encouragement," official Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told Interfax.
"We expect that the interaction of Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran on such a basis can significantly contribute to the efforts of the international community to transfer military confrontation in Syria to a political channel promoting the success of the mission of the UN/LAS special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi," the diplomat said.
*** MOSCOW CONCERNED ABOUT FORM OF INTL MILITARY PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN AFTER 2014
The future of international presence in Afghanistan after 2014 must be decided at the UN Security Council and the size of the force to guard foreign instructors in the territory of Afghanistan should be minimal, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko has said.
As for "ISAF and NATO's further presence in Afghanistan should become the subject of a separate discussion in the Security Council," Grushko who is currently being approved as the new Russian ambassador to NATO said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
"Apparently, there should be instructors to train personnel for Afghan security forces and the Afghan army. Naturally, the instructors should be provided with security but these security forces should be limited in number and should serve Afghanistan's domestic needs," he went on to say.
*** RUSSIA AWAITS LEGAL GUARANTEES ON MISSILE DEFENSE FROM NATO - DEPUTY FM
There can be no talks between Russia and NATO on the missile defense issue without clear guarantees that the NATO system is not aimed against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said.
"We think that any detail talks on the configuration of the system should start with providing guarantees that its is not aimed against Russian deterrence means that are a part of the strategic equilibrium. It is nuclear balance that has been a guarantee of peace and stability for decades," Grushko said in an interview with the Voice of Russia radio station.
"Such guarantees should include military and political criteria, rather than be oral," he said.
*** ALEXEYEVA QUITS KREMLIN'S HUMAN RIGHTS ADVISORY BODY
A veteran Russian human rights defender said on Wednesday that she was stepping down as a member of the presidential human rights advisory body because of "all those squabbles, intrigues and dirt" in selecting candidates for vacancies in it.
"I'm fed up with all those squabbles, intrigues and dirt," Lyudmila Alexeyeva, the 85-year-old leader of Russia's oldest rights organization, the Moscow Helsinki Group, told Interfax in comments on the selection of candidates for the 13 vacancies on the Human Rights Council.
"This entire continuous squabble has forced me to definitively make up my mind to step down. I have notified [council chairman] Mikhail Alexandrovich Fedotov about this."
*** AEROFLOT SAYS FLIGHTS BACK ON SCHEDULE AFTER SHEREMETYEVO POWER CUT
Aeroflot Russian Airlines (RTS: AFLT) has announced it has gone back to its normal flight schedule after suspending some of its flights because of a power cut at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport on Wednesday morning.
"Aeroflot has completely resumed its operation after the disruption caused by a power supply system accident at Sheremetyevo airport. Currently, flight SU1214 to Samara and flight SU1802 to Kyiv remain delayed. Their expected times of departure are 20:00 and 01:00 respectively. The rest of the Aeroflot flights are following the schedule," Aeroflot said in a statement.
*** TICKET SALES OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED FOR RUGBY WORLD CUP SEVENS 2013, RUSSIA
Wednesday has seen the official launch of ticket sales for Rugby Sevens World Cup 2013, set to take place in Moscow.
"The booking of tickets for the World Cup started on July 1. I am happy to see that by today there have been more than 2,500 individual applications for tickets," Russian Rugby Federation president Vyacheslav Kopiyev told a news conference in Moscow on Wednesday.
Tickets quotas for Russian regional rugby federations and for national rugby federations of participating countries have already been defined, he said.
"We except that a total of 160,000 tickets will be sold for the tournament," he said.
Russian Grids directors recommend 'pref' dividends of 0.08 of ruble for 2012 (Part 2)
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