Digest of headline news from October 11 to 11:30 a.m. Moscow time on October 12:
*** DOLLAR EDGES UP AS EURO SLIPS AT MICEX OPEN FRIDAY
The dollar gained some and the euro lost some as MICEX trading began on Friday, and the ruble picked up a little ground against the bicurrency basket amid mixed messages from other stock trading floors.
The dollar opened at 31.005-31.06 rubles/$1 - averaging 31.02 rubles/$1 in the first minute of trading - which was a kopeck over Thursday close but 15 kopecks under the official exchange rate for Friday. Several minutes after trading began, the dollar had slid to under 31 rubles.
The euro opened in the neighborhood of 40.11 rubles/EUR1, 11 kopecks under Thursday close but 4 kopecks over the official exchange rate.
The bicurrency basket ($0.55 and EUR 0.45) was at 35.12 rubles, down 3 kopecks.
*** RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET OPENS ON SLIGHT DOWNSWING FRIDAY
The Russian stock market began the trading day Friday with the MICEX and RTS indices slipping a bit.
By 10:01 a.m. Moscow time, the MICEX index was down 0.2% at 1460.4 points and the RTS index 0.3% at 1485.84 points.
*** RUSSIAN MONETARY BASE UP 29.1 BLN RUBLES TO 7137.0 BLN RUBLES
The narrow monetary base in Russia stood at 7137.0 bln rubles on October 8 up from 7107.9 bln rubles on October 1, the Central Bank reported on Friday.
*** GAZPROM SAID PREPARING FOR COLDER WINTER THAN LAST YEAR
Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) expects a colder winter this year and is preparing to be able to supply more gas than last winter.
Company management considered Gazprom's readiness for the winter season during a meeting on Thursday. "We are preparing for the upcoming winter to be a lot colder, and during peak cold we need to be supplying consumers with larger amounts of gas than last winter," official company representative Sergei Kupriyanov told Interfax after the meeting.
*** LUKOIL SEEKS WEST QURNA-2 PARTNERS WITH IRAQ EXPERIENCE
Russian oil major Lukoil (RTS: LKOH) wants to bring on board as partners companies with experience working in the region for the development of the West Qurna-2 deposit in Iraq, Lukoil CEO Vagit Alekperov told the press in Astrakhan on Thursday.
"We want to see a partner that would provide either experience working in the region or new technology that would make it possible to more effectively develop the deposit," Alekperov said. "If we are offered economically advantageous terms from partners, then we are prepared to consider selling a stake," he said.
*** LUKOIL, GAZPROM, KAZMUNAYGAS FORMING JV TO DEVELOP CENTRAL ASTRAKHAN FIELD
Lukoil (RTS: LKOH), Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) and Kazakh National Company KazMunayGas are currently forming a joint venture to develop the Central Astrakhan gas condensate field in the Astrakhan region, Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov told journalists in Astrakhan on Thursday.
"We are partners with Gazprom on a 50/50 basis at the Central Astrakhan structure. KazMunayGas is also a partner. Today we are establishing the enterprise, to which the license for geological survey will be reassigned," he said.
This year, Lukoil-Primoryeneftegaz is planning reentry for the 1 Primorskaya well at the Central Astrakhan field.
*** NOVATEK SIGNS FIRST MARKETING AGREEMENT FOR UST-LUGA COMPLEX WITH BRASKEM
NOVATEK (RTS: NVTK) has signed an agreement with Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem to supply up to 1 million tonnes of naphtha produced at the Ust-Luga Trans-shipment and Gas Fractionation complex in 2013, the Russian gas producer said in a statement.
NOVATEK is currently completing the first phase construction of the complex at the port of Ust-Luga, which includes facilities for trans-shipment and fractionation of stable gas condensate into refined products. At full capacity, the complex will process up to 6 million tonnes of gas condensate per annum to produce naphtha, diesel and jet fuel, as well as heating oil. The complex will allow the company to enter new markets, expand its customer base and increase sales of higher value added products, the company said.
*** NORILSK NICKEL MAY ADJUST DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY IF NORILSK-1 LICENSE NOT OBTAINED
Mining giant OJSC Norilsk Nickel (RTS: GMKN) may be amending its strategy for development in the period to 2025, excluding from it the earlier-planned production figures from the southern part of the copper and nickel deposit Norilsk-1 - the license to which the company Russian Platinum might obtain.
Norilsk Nickel's deputy director for production, Yury Filippov, said at a Thursday press conference that the strategy could omit starting in 2016 additional metals from the Zapolyarny pit neighboring the southern part of Norilsk-1. The company figures to be developing that area as it expands work at Zapolyarny.
Fillipov said that Norilsk Nickel plans to be mining 3.6 million of ore per year starting in 2016 - an amount of ore containing 23 tonnes of platinum group metals.
*** NORDGOLD BOOSTS GOLD PRODUCTION 9% TO 194,000 OZ IN Q3
Nordgold boosted output 9% year-on-year in Q3 to 194,000 gold equivalent ounces, the company said in a statement.
This was 17% higher than in Q2 2012.
Sales revenue grew to $322.5 million in Q3 2012, from $253.4 million a year previously, as gold sales rose 29%, although the sale price of gold fell 2% to $1,670/oz.
The company said it was on track to produce a targeted 720,000-770,000 oz gold equivalent.
*** RASPADSKAYA UPS COAL OUTPUT 3% TO 4.8 MLN TONNES IN 9M
Russian coal producer OJSC Raspadskaya (RTS: RASP) boosted raw coal output by 3% year-on-year to 4.812 million tonnes in January-September 2012, the company said in a statement.
In Q3, meanwhile, Raspadskaya slashed production 25% quarter-on-quarter to 1.378 million tonnes.
*** ROSINTER UPS REVENUE 3.4% IN 9M TO 7.5 BLN RUBLES
Rosinter Restaurants (RTS: ROST) boosted consolidated revenue 3.4% year-on-year in January-September 2012 to 7.529 billion rubles, the company said in trading update.
Revenue grew 6.1% in Q3 to 2.584 billion rubles.
Same-store gross revenue fell in Q3, by 3.1%. The number of transactions fell 2.7% and the average check fell 0.3%.
*** X5 RETAIL BOOSTS Q3 REVENUE 10% TO 115.9 BLN RUBLES, BELOW FORECAST
Õ5 Retail Group boosted sales revenue 10.4% in Q3 2012 to 115.882 billion rubles, the company said in a statement.
This was below the 117.9 billion rubles that analysts predicted in a consensus forecast for Interfax.
Sales grew 8.2% year-on-year in January-September to 356.207 billion rubles.
Sales increased y-o-y by 10.1% due to organic expansion in 9M, which was offset by a 1.9% decrease in LFL sales.
*** BELARUS OVERCOMES CRISIS, REBUFFS ATTACKS OF ILL-WISHERS - LUKASHENKO
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has praised the parliament's role in maintaining political stability and tackling the economic crisis in the country.
"For all these years, parliament has served as a crucial pillar of political stability, strengthening the unity of the authorities and society and wisely creating a legislative environment for our state's strategic course," Lukashenko said at the final session of both chambers of the country's current parliament on Thursday.
The past four years proved to be quite a difficult period for Belarus, the president said.
*** AZERBAIJAN TO HAVE $16-$17 BLN BALANCE OF PAYMENTS SURPLUS IN 2012 - CENTRAL BANK
Azerbaijan will have a balance of payments surplus of $16-$17 billion in 2012, Chairman of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan Elman Rustamov forecast while presenting on Wednesday at an expanded Cabinet of Ministers meeting dedicated to Azerbaijan's socio-economic development results in January-September 2012.
Official media published the text of Rustamov's speech on Thursday.
"We are expecting a balance of payments surplus at $16-$17 billion for 2012," he said.
Exports will triple imports this year. "Exports of non-oil goods and services will total $5 billion in 2012," Rustamov said.
*** TURKMEN GDP GROWS 11% IN 9M - PRESIDENT
Turkmenistan posted 11.1% GDP growth in January-September, the country's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov announced at an expanded government meeting Wednesday evening.
Berdymukhamedov expressed satisfaction with the rate at which the republic's economy was expanding, saying that GDP growth was substantially contributed to by industry.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
*** PUTIN CREATES ORGANIZING COMMITTEE FOR RUSSIA'S SCO AND BRICS PRESIDENCY IN 2014-2015
President Vladimir Putin has decreed to create an organizing committee to prepare and ensure Russia's presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2014-2015 and of the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in 2015.
The decree was published on the official legal information portal on Thursday.
Presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has been appointed as the committee's chairman. He is to submit the committee's membership list and action plan to the president for approval.
*** PUTIN'S, MEDVEDEV'S APPROVAL RATINGS ON THE RISE - FOM POLL
The public confidence and approval ratings of President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have strengthened over the past two weeks.
Putin's rating rose to 44% from 42% a week ago and from 41% two weeks ago, as suggested by a poll conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) in 204 communities in 64 Russian regions on October 6-7 (3,000 respondents).
Medvedev's rating gained 3% (from 36% to 39%) over the same period.
*** TOO EARLY TO SPEAK OF MOSCOW'S READINESS FOR CONTACTS WITH NEW GEORGIAN LEADERS - RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT
Moscow has noted that Tbilisi has started to think of ways to normalize Russian-Georgian relations, but, at the same time, has said that it would be premature to speak about Russia's readiness for contacts with the new authorities in Georgia.
"I would describe such a statement as premature. First, we need to understand the true intentions of our Georgian partners, after which we will formulate our position," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary of State Grigory Karasin told Interfax.
*** RUSSIA EXPECTS GENEVA NEGOTIATORS TO PASS JOINT STATEMENT ON NON-USE OF FORCE BEFORE DECEMBER ROUND - KARASIN
Moscow hopes that the Georgian, South Ossetian and Abkhaz representatives at the Geneva discussions on security and stability in the Caucasus will pass a trilateral statement on the non-use of force before the next round of talks, due in December 2012.
"The issue of the non-use of force traditionally dominated today's round. Our draft, which the Russian delegation had tabled in March, was accepted as the basis for debates, after which the co-chairmen drew up their own document. Today we agreed that we will probably try to pass such a statement of the negotiating parties before the December round," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Interfax after Thursday's round in Geneva.
*** ISRAELI ELECTION WILL NOT AFFECT RUSSIAN-ISRAELI TIES - MARGELOV
Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's international affairs committee Mikhail Margelov said that whatever the outcome of a snap parliamentary election in Israel, it will not affect Russian-Israeli relations.
"It is safe to say that Israel's parliamentary election, regardless of its outcome, will not affect the activity of our bilateral working group or bilateral relations as such, considering their significance," the senator told Interfax on Thursday.
Russia and Israel have strong inter-parliamentary ties and a joint working group on cooperation between the Federation Council and the Knesset, he said.
*** TWO CONVICTED PUSSY RIOT MEMBERS WILL NOT CHANGE LAWYERS
Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, convicted members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, will not change their lawyers, lawyer Mark Feigin told Interfax after meeting with the women in the detention facility on Thursday evening.
"They girls said we will stay their lawyers and will continue fighting. There will be no compromises, we will fight this system till the end," Feigin said.
*** RUSSIA WILL MAINTAIN BAN ON CZECH SPIRITS BEFORE GETTING FINDINGS FROM POISONING PROBE
Russia's sanitary service warned on Thursday that it would not lift its ban on Czech distilled spirits before the Czech government provides comprehensive reports on investigations of poisonings in the Czech Republic from alcohol illicitly produced in that country.
"Such information from the Czech Republic would enable [the Russian Federal Supervisory Service for Consumer Rights and Human Wellbeing] to take appropriate steps to resolve the current situation as soon as possible and lift restrictions on alcohol products from the Czech Republic without endangering public health," the service, known by the acronym Rospotrebnadzor, told Interfax.
*** RUSSIAN POLICE FORCE NEEDS MORE REFORM - INTERIOR MINISTER
The reform of Russia's police force carried out some time ago has failed to solve all of the problems, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev said.
"The measures that were taken during the first phase of the reform were necessary. However, they proved to be insufficient to produce results, they failed to fully live up to the expectations of the people. It is for this reason that we need to optimize our work and there remains a lot to do to make people aware of positive changes in the [police] system," Kolokoltsev said at a meeting on Thursday of a police reform working group.
*** THIRD RUSSIAN LAUNCH VEHICLE TO BLAST OFF FROM EUROPEAN SPACEPORT
Russia's Soyuz-ST-B launch vehicle equipped with a Fregat-MT upper stage and carrying two Galileo-IOV (In-Orbit Validation) satellites of the European satellite navigation system Galileo is due to lift off from the Guiana Space Center near Kourou on Friday evening.
"The launch has been set for 10:15 p.m. Moscow time," a spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) told Interfax-AVN.
*** IOC PRAISES PREPARATIONS FOR SOCHI OLYMPICS
The eighth inspection visit by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) commission, which is part of the preparations for the 12th Olympics and the 11th Winter Paralympics in Sochi in 2014, has ended in Sochi.
Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the Sochi 2014 IOC Coordination Commission, has given high marks to the construction of Olympic infrastructure in Sochi, calling the work "flawless."
*** GEORGIA'S FUTURE NATIONAL BANK HEAD DEMANDS SAAKASVHILI TRIAL
Former head of Georgia's National Bank Nodar Dzhavakhishvili believes that President Mikheil Saakashvili should be brought to trial.
Earlier, Dzhavakhishvili was proposed as the new National Bank chief by the leader of the Georgian Dream coalition, which won a convincing victory in the October 1 parliamentary election.
"I heard someone on the radio praise Saakashvili for not putting Eduard Shevardnadze on trial and for letting him stay in Georgia. I think Shevardnadze should also stand trial. All the culprits should be punished. That's the only way to build a just state," Dzhavakhishvili said at a press conference on Thursday.
*** TOO EARLY TO CHANGE BELARUSIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM - LUKASHENKO
There should be no haste with the amendment of the national election laws and parliamentary election procedure, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at the final session of the 4th parliament houses on Thursday.
"Let us not hurry; the decision will be ours but it will be shaped up by time and the people," he said.
The majoritarian electoral system "is a good and fair system, which allows every voter to know his or her deputy and to vote not just for a political platform but for a particular person," the president said.
*** LUKASHENKO CALLS RADICAL OPPOSITION'S ELECTION BOYCOTT A SIGN OF WEAKNESS
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he regrets the absence of an honest and responsible opposition in the country, dismissing opposition movements' boycott of the September parliamentary elections as a sign of weakness and cowardice.
"The so-called campaign to boycott the elections failed disgracefully and demonstrated the weakness and cowardice of the so-called radical opposition, the fifth column, who refused even to imitate any struggle for power," Lukashenko said at the final session of both chambers of the country's outgoing parliament.
Ukraine paid $390 per 1,000 cu m for gas from Germany in March; $425.6 for gas from Russia
Aeroflot may put 1.3 bln rubles towards 1.1636-ruble dividends for 2012 - company (Part 2)
Turkmenistan to produce 10-30 bcm of gas per year at first stage of Galkynysh field